Archive for Northern Kind

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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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

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 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

The future of our genre may belong to Northern Kind

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 9, 2011 by softsynth

We’ve never sung the praises of Northern Kind to the degree we should have, at least not in these pages. And yet, in so many ways they represent the best of our genre. Looking back on our review of their last album, we “liked it” but did we “like it, like it”? Not really. It was seen as a solid, fun, enjoyable, but not necessarily memorable album. And yet looking back at the material that made up that album, Wired:, we are struck by how lasting, how compelling those songs still sound. They have long been one of those bands that is “there”, in the background, always satisfying, never quite rising to the top of the “must listen to this” pile, and yet…and yet. 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

In defence of the lowly drum machine

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by softsynth

“This next band…doesn’t have a drummer!!” So intoned a breathless Dick Clark in 1984 during a broadcast of his American hot 100 countdown radio show. We were transfixed. What could that mean? To a 13 year old who was just discovering music and for whom pop or rock music meant a guitar, a bass, drums, a singer and maybe a keyboard. What was this non-drummer lunacy?? As it turned out he was talking about Depeche Mode who were enjoying their first North American mainstream success with “People are People”. Clark was positively verkempt at the notion. To young teen Softsynth’s ears it sure sounded like they had drums in there, perhaps Clark was simply insane. It seemed a reasonable conclusion. Continue reading