Archive for M83

The 2011 Softsynth playlist

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2011 by softsynth

So, as we do every year, we have assembled the individual songs that made up the soundtrack for Softsynth this year. We are generally more about albums than singles but there are individual songs that stand on their own as outstanding. Some of these come from albums we found underwhelming as a whole, some were one-off singles, or standouts from excellent EPs.

We don’t do a singles list because as often as not it’s album tracks that get us all hot and bothered but the song collection that truly moved us, our “top 25 songs” to go with our albums of the year, starts with the following: Continue reading

When the prestige isn’t quite enough

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on November 16, 2011 by softsynth

Let’s start by saying up front, this blogger occasionally displays something of a…shall we say a snobbish quality. We aren’t proud of it, but we realize and understand it. Especially when it comes to culture and more specifically pop culture. We don’t embrace mass tastes in television, in film, in theatre, in books, and above all else, in music. There are occasional popular, mass-produced acts we enjoy, the periodic Gagas of the world, the periodic Evanescences, and so forth, but generally speaking our tastes run to the more alternative, and like most who identify with the alternative movement (let alone the alternative electronic movement), there’s that little nugget of self-satisfied superiority when we turn our noses up at what constitutes the “mainstream”. However, even such a snob as this sometimes can’t go with the hipster douchebag holier than thou (TM) trends as much as we might otherwise like. Continue reading


Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2011 by softsynth

When we look back at the history of electronic music, and more personally Softsynth’s own journey to embrace our shared genre, Daniel Miller’s record label played a larger, more significant role than any other entity. As a young lad in a small Canadian city in the pre-internet era there were only a few ways to discover new music. Mainstream radio was the big one and we’ve waxed on about how we discovered Depeche Mode in 1984 thanks to the then-ubiquitous “People Are People” which aired on MuchMusic, daily video shows like CBC’s Video Hits, and on radio programs like Dick Clark’s op 40 Countdown which aired on Halifax’s C-100.
Continue reading

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

Definitely worth a listen: M83’s “Saturdays = Youth”

Posted in Commentary, Review with tags , , on April 18, 2009 by softsynth

Sometimes an artist can slip by me, completely unnoticed for years. It’s only because France’s M83 are opening for Depeche Mode on the European leg of their “Tour of the Universe” that I’ve heard of them at all. Alerted to their presence with the announcement of a contest to provide a video for their new single “We Own the Sky”, I was prompted to pick up their new album Saturdays=Youth, and I have to say it’s a delight. I’m not going to provide a review because this album has been out since last year and I have pledged to keep all reviews current, but a few words on the band and the album.

Around since 2001, they’ve already released five albums and the new(est) one seems the most well rounded. A lot of soft-spoken vocals, and etherial swirling synths with a dollop of early 80s new wave (eg. the guitar line on “Couleurs” sounds like it was lifted from Human League’s “The Lebanon” and there’s more than a little Simple Minds mixed in there). They are awfully self-serious but there’s an element of fun in there too and the band (who is actually, largely founder Anthony Gonzalez) know their way around a good beat and songs like “Up!” and “Kim and Jessie” are rock-solid pop songs. It’s unfortunate I hadn’t discovered this enjoyable band earlier but I’m glad to have so much material to start sorting through now.

Watch “Kim & Jessie”: