Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Doughy White Guys

Eric O of Null Device recently posted an amusing list of do's/don'ts for the synthpop set. A few highlights:

No naming your band after classic synthpop songs or lyrics. Obscure ones, however, are acceptable. So if you're a Kraftwerk fan, naming your band "Pocket Calculator" is right out, but "Der Telefon Anruf" is fine. If you're a dM fan, only "Ice Machine" is left.

It's okay to wear something other than black in your stage shows. Since many electronic-music artists are doughy white guys, things like tight pants and fishnet shirts should probably be avoided.

If you do "darker" stuff, please, please for the love of god stop singing about replicants. Even Bill Leeb has given up on that.

If anyone asks, the reason you've adopted the sound of the 80's is because of postmodern irony. Do NOT admit to actually liking it. The same is true for vintage gear. You bought the Moog because of the inherently unstable tuning and the hilariously dated graphic design, not because you like the sound. If you own a 303, it's because it's overused and kitschy and you want to be ahead of the curve for the inevitable acid revival.

Go to GoodWill and buy a bunch of toys that make goofy noises and maybe a cheap old casio keyboard. Leave them scattered about your studio, and keep a soldering iron handy. You never have to actually do anything with them, but it will give you immense cred when the photographers from FutureMusic stop by.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Industrial legend Bill Leeb, the man behind Front Line Assembly, Delerium, Noise Unit and a few other projects, is selling a fair amount of his vintage equipment on ebay. No word yet on his motivation to move on, but there are only two days left to bid...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Made For Love

Goldfrapp's "Supernature" is two weeks away from finally getting that long promised US release and the peace offerings are coming. The band will be touring shortly and the domestic version of the album will have a bonus dvd that appears to have some content. Better yet, "Ooh La La" is this weeks free download on itunes. Click here to download one of my favorite songs of 2005.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Monolithic Super Bands

PopMatters recently made their predictions about the generational shifting of musical canon and today's SF Chronicle compiled a causal list of twenty "new classic" albums that classic rock fans may have missed:

While music scribes and the Bay Area faithful continue to preach the golden-era gospel of monolithic super bands from the '60s, the alternative music congregation believes Kraftwerk, Talking Heads and Joy Division to be more influential than the Beatles, the Stones and the Dead. These alt-rockers know their music has been underappreciated, while all of the references to the Stones printed in The Chronicle over the past 40 years probably exceed the number of times the word "God" is used in the Bible...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Rhythm Is The Key

Try tapping the rhythm of a melody and The Song Tapper identifies the song...usually. Warning: somewhat addictive.

(Via Slothblog)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Feel The Pressure

It's been out elsewhere forever now, but Mylo's album just received a domestic release a week ago. I've contemplated doing a full review, but I found Pitchfork expressed my sentiments better:

Mylo's tracks read a bit like a cross section of the genre's history. All the happiest tricks of each era-- disco groove, synth-pop melodies, house rush, downtempo foot-tapping, French filter sweeps, cut-rate Daft Punk, choppy edits-- sharing space. And yet this is anything but one of those big, bursting pastiche albums, packed with ideas and flailing everywhere at once. No, these tracks go in straight, simple lines, and they rarely take their eyes off whichever hooks grab you fastest. Don't count on the dance cognoscenti to approve of them: If anything, this is house music as Saturday-morning cartoon-- all bold lines inked in bright, primary colors.

Essentially I'm impressed by the quality of the tracks, but a bit disappointed that this album that brings little to the table in the way of new ideas has been the buzzed about electronica album of the past couple of years. Of course maybe I shouldn't worry so much:

This is to dance what Art Brut is to rock: cheeky, charming, too straightforward to worry about style, ramming through the fundamentals as if pure enthusiasm is the most important part of making music.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Arms Up Just Dance

Sometimes things slip away from me and I need a reminder. I recently got one of those in the form a nice thank you email from electropop duo Dangerous Muse. They are one of the first signings to Warner Bros new imprint Cordless Recordings which deals in online exclusive releases from new acts. Here is an excerpt from my review at synthpop.net that should give you an idea of what they are about:

“The Rejection” typifies the duo’s approach. The low key synths and underplayed vocals find the band in musical waters that lie between a less nervous Junior Boys and a modernized Fortran 5. A distinct rhythmic pulse push the song along a series of smart chord changes while the stream of conscious lyrics take us on a journey through a gentle dance floor rejection.

: While I think they suffer from a name that is unfortunately similar to Danger Mouse, they arew band that are rock solid and full of potential. Hear for yourself at their myspace page.

Monday, February 13, 2006


The last year might have been the most release heavy period for New Order ever. They put out "Waiting For Sirens Call", a few singles, web exclusive remixes, a dvd video collection, and a new singles collection. Now the word is that the side-project Other Two will be scoring the Brit crime drama Cracker:

...drummer Stephen Morris and his wife, keyboard and guitar player Gillian, are writing the soundtrack for the Manchester-set series.

"I was a fan when Cracker was last on TV so it's great to be doing the music for the new series," Stephen says.

"The writer Jimmy McGovern asked us to do it. It also means we'll be two of the first people to see it."

: No word on how this will effect progress on New Order's 2006 album but it's New Order so it's not like they do much in the way of announcing plans in advance.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


The latest download.com newsletter linked to an "audio installation" called Can I Get An Amen? that explains the history of the amen break and goes on:

...to bring into scrutiny the techno-utopian notion that 'information wants to be free'- it questions its effectiveness as a democratizing agent. This as well as other issues are foregrounded through a history of the Amen Break and its peculiar relationship to current copyright law.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Vanishing Point

Apparently the tide has changed for Primal Scream:

The new songs - 'Country Girl', 'Cars', 'Nitty Gritty', 'Suicide Sally', 'Bomb Drops' and 'Hole In My Heart' - confirmed rumours that the band have foregone their recent, electronically-influenced sound for a return to the straightforward rock 'n' roll of their 'Give Out But Don't Give Up' era.

: Primal Scream as an electronic rock act are amazing. After their last rock record, which the official amazon.com review calls a "Rolling Stones-meets-Black Crowes monstrosity", they slowly got back into electronics with the trip hop beats of "Trainspotting" and the criminally ignored single "Kowalski" before they delivering their millennial masterpiece "Exterminator". No one else touches them when they experiment with electronics. However, the band's straight rock just doesn't cut it. Hopefully they will come to their senses soon enough and switch on a machine or two the next time they're near a studio.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I Will Follow

PopMatters recently placed odds on which bands will be topping "best band ever" lists as the Boomer generation, um, dies off. Not that PopMatters is sad about it because since they consider the whole "best ever" list phenomena a cultural reminder of which generation is still in charge. After all we've all seen these...:

...many navel-gazing pat-on-the-back love letters that baby boomers send to themselves to remind themselves that everything was better when they were young: the relationships, the culture, and most certainly the music.

: I think they've got the odds just about right since earlier this week I flipped between three radio stations playing songs by this candidate for best band ever all at the same time. Maybe music on this scale is really all about the marketing.

Friday, February 03, 2006

No Spin Zone

Dead Or Alive frontman Pete Burns recently "lashed out" over this week's UK re-release of his band's biggest hit as it capitalizes on his recent appearance on "Celebrity Big Brother":

Fans and newspapers campaigned for the track's re-release today (January 30). However, when told of the decision Burns attacked the plans.

"I'm sick of that song," the singer told Channel 4 presenter Davina McCall after leaving the 'Big Brother' house. "It's like still wearing school uniform when you're 50."

The single has already been re-released once, when it reached number 23 in 2003, though this time it is expected to climb higher.

: I suspect the "story" I just quoted is a driven by some quotes taken out of context, but if Burns is really upset this would be a first for him. Not only was there the 2003 re-release, but "You Spin Me Round(Like A Record)" has a 1999 version, a 1996 mix and an official Dannii Minogue mash-up.

"You Spin Me Round" charted at #5 on the UK singles chart on the week of this re-release.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Last One Standing

Some highlights from an interview with Ladytron I recently found.

On signing to a major label:
When we were with Telstar, they knew we wanted to make an amazing album but they wanted us to make something that was very like Light and Magic and do another ‘Seventeen’, like Nineteen or something, because that type of music had become popular and they wanted more radio friendly tracks. But we were totally against that, we wanted to create our own sound and didn’t want to be forced into anything.

...being mistaken as an Eastern European band:
...it’s as silly as us being called a scouse band, Reuben and I live there but it’s funny to think of Mira and Helen being called scousers. Exit was an amazing festival, one of the best gigs this year along with Benicassim. It was in Serbia, and we had no idea what to expect. We were on between Slayer and Fatboy Slim, they thought we were perfect to bridge the gap for some reason. We played to 40,000 people and the crowd were so up for it. It was brilliant.

...defining success:
I always thought it was a blessing that although everyone seems to know ‘Seventeen’ it wasn’t a huge radio hit and so it hasn’t stopped us developing... The last gig we did in 2003 was in Liverpool with this little band called Franz Ferdinand, who no one had ever heard of, supporting us. We thought we’d give them a chance! It was like ‘Oh well done lads, you’re quite good, we think you’ll make it.’ Little did we know!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Take The Side Streets Home

Saint Etienne finally saw their most recent album released State-side this past week and what an amazing return. While I've kept tabs on the band over the years I have found myself less enthusiastic about their more recent outings, and I am pleasantly surprised to see this one buck the trend. On paper "Tales From The Turnpike House" should be the band's most bloated work given that it is a concept album with songs written from the point of view from various residents of a low income London apartment building and they dared to fully go "rock" on a track or two. However, this is the band's most consistent and accessible album since "Tiger Bay". Listen for yourself at the band's page on their new label's site where you can stream the whole album.