Archive for Parralox

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!

Review: Parralox – Metropolis

Posted in Review with tags , on December 5, 2010 by softsynth

We’ve written much about how amazing Australia’s Parralox’s debut album, Electricity was. We chose it as one of the top 20 electronic albums of the decade and rightfully so. They captured the spirit of the golden era of synthpop better than almost anyone else out there with a particular homage to Yazoo and it worked beautifully. Their follow-up, State of Decay, saw a key line-up change and a change of direction and the results were comparably disappointing (with some exceptions like the terrific sleeper “Time”). So, now the prolific duo are back quickly with album number three. Does it lean more toward the exciting verve of album #1 or toward the more mundane, by-the-numbers #2? Continue reading

Three artists we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 23, 2010 by softsynth

One things we can say about 2010 is it’s been a productive year for new electronic artists. A clear majority of the albums we’ve reviewed this year have been debut recordings from new artists.

As some older, more established artists fade a little, break up (Thermostatic, we hardly knew ye!), or go to that latter-career place where a new album comes around about with the same frequency as Haley’s comet, it’s key¬†that younger, newer artists start to step up to fill that void. A couple of such new folk are all over the Softsynth playlist this week (and one established new artist with a kick ass new song).
Continue reading

Electronic cover versions

Posted in Commentary, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by softsynth

While listening to the new Collide album (which we were pretty hard on in our review, it still stands but some of these tracks have held up better than we would have thought…) Softsynth was struck by the number of songs that seemed like odd matches with a predominantly electronic band (John Lennon?) Got us to thinking about some of the great cover versions given new life by electronic bands over the years (and some of the noble failures. And some of the just plain shitty treatments).

Some of the early great electronic recordings were cover versions, none more notable than Daniel Miller’s 1979/80 Silicon Teens project which was mostly synthpop covers of classic rock songs from the 50s and early 60s.

It didn’t always work (like the too-twee-by-half “Judy in Disguise”) but sometimes, like the fantastic version of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” it made for really refreshing takes on the classics.

Bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and The Human League diddled about with covers (Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man”, the “Nightclubbing/Rock n Roll” amalgam, respectively) in the early days of their careers and the likes of Depeche Mode messed about with classics like “The Price of Love” before becoming full-fledged recording artists.

Perhaps the most successful well-known electronic cover was Soft Cell’s monster 1981 hit single, their version of the Northern Soul classic “Tainted Love” (which for decades had the distinction of being the song to log the most weeks on billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart). Continue reading

Top 25 electronic albums: 2000-2009 – Part I

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by softsynth

As the decade draws to a close, blog after blog and magazine after magazine have been publishing their end-of-decade best-of-the-aughts music lists. Allow Softsynth to dive in to that crowded pool.

It’s been a busy and exciting decade for electronic music after the dry-ish decade of the 90s that saw a genre in transition, unsure of what was to come next as the golden era of the 80s passed by and the resurgence was yet to come. Since 2000 we have seen ups and downs among the subgenres with some of the most interesting music those subgenres have ever produced bubbling up this decade. In the coming weeks we will share our annual best of the year list – the only time we break from the declared mandate of this blog and we include what we thought were the best albums of 2009 regardless of genre – but for now, we share part of the best of the decade in electronic albums.

We have spent more time than usual preparing this list, one that is as subjective as any other (and we have seen some electronic best-0f-the-decade lists that have swung wildly across the spectrum – to the AV Club you would swear that “electronic music” consisted of little more than the DJ community, for example) based on our own tastes but we try to be as inclusive as possible, knowing that 50 fans of electronic music will come up with 50 different permutations. We started with nearly 100 of the most notable electronic albums of the decade with the various electronic subgenres and whittled it painstakingly down to 25. Some released this year may well stand the test of time but haven’t marinated long enough – including new work from Venus Hum, and Assemblage 23. Only two 2009 albums have made it to this list, and both were releases at the very top of the year. On further reflection we may wish to have added the 2009 offerings from the above two or others (and it would be a safe bet that each will be in our best of ’09 list so stay tuned). For better or worse, here’s the best of the rest: Continue reading