Archive for Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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

The Best Electronic Albums of 2009

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2009 by softsynth

Finally recovered from the exhaustion of compiling the decade’s best electronic albums, we now turn our attention to the best of this year. Two changes to the initial plans. We had reported earlier we were going to do an all-genre-inclusive list, as we did last year on this blog and as we have in previous years in the earlier incarnation of the blog. Given the huge number of predominantly electronic albums that were released this year, or more specifically, the large number of great electronic albums, we have done an about-face and will stay true to the blog’s mandate and share what we think are the best of the year – electronic only. (The only two albums clearly effected by this change are the exceptional new works from The Dead Weather and Placebo, and we’ll hear from them elsewhere, see below…; and as always the definition of “electronic” is somewhat loose – see our own definition in an earlier post.)

Second change, we had also mused about doing a singles of the year list. Ha, we say. Ha! Overwhelmed with the sheer number of exceptional singles we throw in the towel. Simply too onerous. We will instead do the 2009 Softsynth playlist – all genres this time and not just singles but album tracks too. Despite the move to a singles society thanks to iTunes and the like, we still look to album tracks for some of the most interesting, challenging work out there. Those songs, electronic and otherwise that have blown us away or just kept us moving throughout the year will make up the official Softsynth playlist. We’ll get to said playlist soon enough, for now, the best in 2009 electronic albums… Continue reading

Electronic music and the Grammys

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2009 by softsynth

Once again we raise a quizzical eyebrow at the Grammy awards, who announced their latest round of nominations and as always we turn our attention to the category, “Best Electronic/Dance album”. Now putting aside for now the notion that all electronic music is compatible with “Dance” (which would be a surprise for everyone from Cold Cave to Coil to M83) the Grammy committee continues to make odd choices when it comes to the category. The nominees:

  • Divided By Night
    The Crystal Method

  • One Love
    David Guetta

  • The Fame
    Lady Gaga

  • Party Rock
    LMFAO

  • Yes
    Pet Shop Boys 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

Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

Posted in Review with tags , on February 25, 2009 by softsynth

I’ve always enjoyed Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and particularly singer Karen O, the dangerous, charismatic, and let’s be honest, utterly hot lead singer, but they’ve outdone themselves with their new album, It’s Blitz! To anyone who is familiar with the band to hear a record so blatantly electronic is almost jarring at first listen and true enough, there has been a great deal of debate over the band’s choice of direction for this album, especially among diehard fans (which=I can’t help but find it interesting being on this side of one of these debates considering how frequently electronic bands turn their back on the sound that defined them, and how distressing this can sometimes be; it’s odd to have a band that is not known for electro dabbling to cross over to the land of the synths). But after one gets over the fact that the sound is quite different they realize that the songwriting and spirit that truly define this band are fully intact, it becomes easier to let go and go along for the ride. Continue reading