Archive for La Roux

In praise (and memory) of the synth riff

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2013 by softsynth

Was just listening to Book of Love’s “Enchanted” which came up on the iPhone shuffle and was struck by how cool the riff is. Book of Love were great at the synth riff, and employed it regularly throughout their all-too-short career. Not surprising as they were so brazenly modelled on Depeche Mode, as DM were as of 1985 when BoL made their debut. The Mode were champions of the synth riff. Think of the moments – “Just Can’t Get Enough” (or for that matter, every single song from Speak & Spell), “Get the Balance Right”, “Everything Counts”, “Master and Servant”, “People are People”, “Shake the Disease”, and many many more – some classics, most pretty special in their own way, and that just in the band’s first five years.

They were far from alone, think of the defining sounds of early synth pop from the golden era – O.M.D.’s “Enola Gay”, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”, aha’s “Take On Me”, Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance”, Gary Numan’s “Cars”, Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, Yazoo’s “Don’t Go”…or “Situation”…or “Nobody’s Diary”…or you know, just any song from Yazoo. The list is far too long to write. One can reflect back to some of the finest moments of the genre and the riff was dominant. Some were particularly good at it – New Order did ’em great, few were better at it than Vince Clarke, Numan was terrific at it and of course Kraftwerk pioneered the trick. It was the stuff of iconic music moments.  Continue reading

Alright 2012, whatcha got for us…?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by softsynth

So, 2011 is now on the way to the compost heap and we sweep the hearth clean in anticipation of what 2012 will bring. Lots of good stuff on the electronic music horizon, fortunately mostly slated for the early part of the year, which is a good thing as we’ll get to enjoy some good new music in advance of the looming apocalypse in the fall (or is it the spring? We get our apocoli confused).

Our list is topped by Assemblage 23’s Bruise (supposed to be out this fall, but we’ll take it whenever Mr. Shear wants to deliver it, so terrific was his last A23 album); and after hearing sensational advance tracks from Bunny Lake their The Sound Of Sehnsucht is also high on our anticipated list. But these two are far from alone. 2012 looks to be replete with potential awesomeness, to whit: Continue reading

La Roux gets the Grammy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 13, 2011 by softsynth

Posted with minimal comment, as predicted La Roux received the Grammy for Best Electronic Album. Certainly deserved, though not having seen the presentation (as each year this category doesn’t warrant being part of the actual broadcast), we don’t know if the band chose to use their acceptance speech to shit all over the genre in which they won.

Our take on the La Roux phenomenon

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 1, 2011 by softsynth

As we look back over 2010, one of the more compelling phenomena in the world of electronic music has been the behemothic rise of La Roux.

The British electro-pop duo is reminiscent of early Erasure, and embodies a definitively old-school synth style. They also sound like any number of other solid synth-pop bands on the scene right now. What they possess, which those other bands do not, is a mainstream success we haven’t seen from a band like this in a dog’s age. Already a huge success in the UK and across Europe (chart success it shared with bands like Goldfrapp), it was also a big hit in the US, traditionally hostile territory for electronic bands chart-wise. “Bulletproof” spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (peaking at #8) and was a seriously ubiquitous song this spring (shifting a staggering 500,000 digital units by April). “In For the Kill” made it another hit when it was played on an episode of “Entourage”. Continue reading

Our thoughts on the annual Grammy noms for “Best electronic album”

Posted in News with tags , , on December 4, 2010 by softsynth

Each year one of the more frustrating experiences as a fan of electronic music is witnessing the dunderheads at the Grammys choose what they think constitutes the “best” electronic releases in a given year. The latest round of nominations is upon us so let’s open the pot and have a look inside, shall we? Continue reading

Coachella looks sweet for the electronic fan

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by softsynth

The new Coachella lineup has been officially announced and it’s killing Softsynth at our inability to attend this year (next year is planned but that was before this killer line up materialized). Lots of our favourite artists from all genres are on tap but in the electronic vibe our community is particularly well represented, not least of which by Gary Numan and Little Boots who appear on the same day (and we would imagine will revisit their awesome collaboration on the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs”, see below).

Also: La Roux, LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, MGMT, Devo (freaking DEVO!), The Big Pink, Phoenix, and a slew of smaller, less well known genre bands. (And beyond electronic music the chance to see Muse, The Dead Weather, Public Image Ltd, Gorillaz, Dirty Projectors, Thom Yorke and Pavement all on one bill is enough to give us a case of the vapors.)

Killing. Softynth. Want to go so very much.

If you’re in Southern California April 16-18 so very worth checking out…

Watch: Venus in Furs

The Softsynth 2009 Playlist (songs of the year ’09)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by softsynth

So this will be the last in the long line of “lists” for the year. We had mused about doing up a “best singles of the year list”

and were both overwhelmed by the task at hand and felt persnickety about the notion of being limited to just singles.

The era of the single is definitely upon us what with the death of the CD as the last remaining form of “physical” music and the growth of iTunes culture, but damn it, Softsynth is a creature from the age of album appreciation and the best songs are so often not the tracks sent out to be appreciated by the masses, but those that remain buried in the outer confines of an album. (That said many of the best songs

released there were, indeed, singles, so we’re not limiting ourselves here). It’s what made for the great mixed tapes of yore. (And for those of a certain age, too young for the pure album era of the 70s, but older than those who know only the MP3 era, the mixed tape was a crucial part of our musical upbringing. we created our own playlists, as a kind of precursor to the era we increasingly find ourselves in today via one-off MP3 downloads, but with tracks culled from albums or singles as we saw fit, depending on our mood at a given time.)

This is literally the only time through the year that we open things up to acknowledge the best stuff from various genres, not just electronic music (and in our next post we will revisit the question of what exactly constitutes so-called “electronic music”).We will paint with a wider brush just to fully colour in the year. So away we go, the singles of the year, er, songs of the year, uh…no, the “2009 Softsynth playlist”…

Continue reading