Archive for Marina And The Diamonds

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

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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

Review: Marina and the Diamonds – Electra Heart

Posted in Review with tags on May 21, 2012 by softsynth

In 2010 we chose the debut album by Marina Diamandis as among the 10 best electronic albums of that year. It deserved to be there in spades – quirky and unusual but also very chart-aware, it was a fun example of how well a truly talented and ambitious musician could take electronic music and make it appetizing to the masses.

A couple of years on we get her second album and it’s in some ways more of the same, and in others an even fuller realization of the chart-nip she clearly desires.

One characteristic that defines the best of her music is her distinctive, lovely, powerful and ever-dramatic voice. One thing we realize when listening to Electra Heart is how much she actually sounds like Katy Perry. It comes out because to a staggering degree the music has coagulated as a kind of Perry mish-mash and this doesn’t necessary do Diamandis any favours.  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

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

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

Four artists we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on April 19, 2010 by softsynth

Softsynth has been enjoying four somewhat under-the-radar artists recently, each of which deserves a larger audience and each deserves a little plug.

One thing about our shared beloved umbrella genre is the sheer number of smaller acts that don’t have the audience of a Goldfrapp or a Depeche Mode but are equally valid of attention. We will begin showcasing some of those smaller, often independent electronic acts that deserve more pair of ears fixed squarely on their material.

To whit… Continue reading