Archive for Chew Lips

The holiday playlist

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by softsynth

So it’s December and all that and while Softsynth may seem the cynic, he still appreciates the holiday season. In fact now that the Month of Ho is upon us the Softsynth Holiday Playlist has been added to the iPod and is in full play mode. This year’s playlist will be familiar to those who have followed this blog lo these last few years, and as always, if you know of something that should be here that isn’t (yet) shout ‘er out! Continue reading

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Hating success

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 1, 2012 by softsynth

Every musical artist aspires to success naturally. Whether it’s artistic success in the form of positive reviews, or fans who “get” what they’re going for or financial success in the form of records or downloads sold or attendance at live shows. It’s a natural desire for anyone who endeavours to be an artist, even if just so one can afford to pursue their passion full-time.

When this blog launched some years ago it was with the mandate of exploring electronic music – all electronic music. Not just alterative but mainstream electronic artists as well. Now this blogger’s personal tastes run toward the more alternative, certainly toward the darker reaches of the genre, but we have endeavoured to bring a certain degree of equanimity to the proceedings. So we will discuss that electronic album Christina Auguilara took on, or U2’s dance with the gadgets, or even Black Eyed Peas more hardcore attempts at pure electronica (search them out on the blog if you like). We attempt to take it all on, the electronic community is a wide and varied one.

So why is it that not just this blogger but so many in the community view commercial success with a degree of suspicion?  Continue reading

Awesome new Huski video is awesome

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on May 23, 2012 by softsynth

No idea of the why but the latest from Softsynth fav Huski is tickling the fancy of your humble blogger in all the right ways when similar directional choices from others have rubbed us in a less appealing manner.

The new single/video “Sleeps Over” is a lot more purely electronic and dance-oriented than their last album, Strangelove and it’s hypnotic and catchy both. We couldn’t be more excited by the forthcoming album, H.

Watch: Sleeps Over

Yet when Marina and the Diamonds (see previous post) or Little Boots or Chew Lips go in a similar direction it feels like a step in a weird place, one that isn’t nearly as satisfying. Now we’re digging the new Marina and the Diamonds and we’re still crazy-looking forward to the new Chew Lips and Little Boots albums, but pure dance without the balls-n-guts that makes their earlier work so strong can feel wanting. We’ll see what those albums sound like and we’re not pre-judging one whit but Huski is showing how cool a directional change can be and how well it can work. Bring on H

Electronic xmas tunes ’11

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2011 by softsynth

Every year we troll about for new electronic holiday music. Perhaps it’s in reaction to the ubiquitousness of the xmas music we hear from radio stations, malls, co-workers computers…in the sea of the same holiday fare those in the electronic community sometimes want a little something to listen to, to get our spirit on without having to hear Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” or even our loved but done to death “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, let alone the older classics. Continue reading

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

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!

The Best Electronic Albums of 2010

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2010 by softsynth

Is it that time already? Hard to fathom a year has passed since we crowned IAMX as having had the best electronic album of ’09, but here we are. It’s been a very different year for electronic music than last. In 2009 we saw a handful of albums (four at least) that were spectacular, and opened up a wormhole in the genre that led us to incredible new places. For balance we also had a great number of albums that were simply “great” to round out our ten. This year is markedly different. There wasn’t a single release that would qualify as transcendent in the way that handful were last year. What we had instead were a much larger pool of “really good, really enjoyable albums”. That makes the art of building a best-of list that much more challenging. A whole lot of good instead of a select few greats makes for a big pot of soup and that’s a harder thing to differentiate. Still there were a number that floated to the top.

When we build a list such as this we are looking for quality lyrics, well-constructed songs and above all, a sense of true resonance – songs that stay with us and stay fresh. There were albums we gave strong, positive reviews to that within months felt stale, and others that received luke-warm reviews that grew stronger with each listen. This made for a very different list than we might have predicted in the summer or early fall.

Need to say it up front: people love lists. Softsynth is no exception, and accordingly a lot of thought goes into ours. Last year at chart time our readership quadrupled and we’ve had emails and tweets asking when the top 10 is due this year, so we know there’s interest in these posts more than any other through the year. Accordingly we get more debate and even the occasional angry post questioning our choices. How could you choose that, how could you exclude this, and the ever-popular, I can’t believe you consider that to be an electronic album!! It needs saying: this is subjective, as are all of our posts. Debate is awesome and most utterly welcome, but the caveat still needs stating.

It was a big enough challenge breaking it down to a top 25. Going deeper to a top ten harder still. There were a number of great, enjoyable albums that we celebrate outside our top ten from across the genre including Nitzer Ebb, Kant Kino, Hot Chip, Tikkle Me, Cindergarden, Ellie Goulding, Psy’Aviah, Goldfrapp, Ego Likeness, tenek, Hungry Lucy, Ambra Red, Android Lust, The Golden Filter, Alice in Videoland, Diorama, Edge of Dawn, How to Destroy Angels (which was such brilliant work, but after going back and forth we decided a five-song EP shouldn’t be in the mix as the best of the best, but we look forward to a full-length very much), De/Vision and our toughest drop, Parralox (and we know full well with the passage of time this is one we may regret not including in the 10, as its recent release may just have not given us enough time to sit with and properly get to know it over a glass of wine in front of the fire, learning each other’s deepest secrets). Each one of the above albums was terrific and made 2010 a solid, enjoyable year for electronic music, they stayed fresh, and displayed songwriting and performance chops and would have been on a longer list. But this is about the best of the year, the best of the best, the top 10 best electronic albums of 2010. To whit… Continue reading