Friday, September 29, 2006

Save It Until The Morning After

I was originally planning on using Junior Boys "In The Morning" selection as the free itunes download of the week in the US as a jumping off point for some interesting press I had found about the band recently, but the 500+ customer comments have proved too much to pass up. First off I'm amazed by how many people apparently assume that if it's the "single of week" that it is the "best" track added to their store and that they expect it to be a hit. Looking back at the singles of the week even as far as a couple of years ago when itunes was still actively trying to pull in new customers almost everything, including tracks from Nelly Furtado and Avril Lavigne, have been on the margins and are songs that hadn't received any airplay at the time they got the single of the week treatment. Why are there hundreds of comments that essentially say "this is the single of the week?" as if they are really put out and need to comment on something that cost them nothing and took thirty seconds to download? The other major thing that bothers me is the high amount of homophobic innuendo in a number of the reviews. Maybe I've been out of high school for too long, but it's a bit shocking to me how sexuality is tossed around so casually as an insult. Imagine what would happen to these people if Scissor Sisters had a single of the week? Then there is the endless stream of Backstreet Boys comparisons. Is that the only music with synths and vocals that Americans have ever heard? To read the reviews it would seem that way. My favorite comment came from a user who doesn't "even consider that music its just idiots trying to make money! (and obviously failing)". Um, where is that huge market for indie electro pop that brings all it's purveyors riches, fame and bling? The overwhelming amount of one star user reviews is amazing and as some reviews have pointed out probably come from not giving the track a fair listen. So This Is Goodbye hasn't reached the same level of critical praise that Last Exit did, but it's done well with largely favorable reviews by most serious music publications. Pitchfork's review of the track referred to one of the song's synth-lines as "one of the most thrilling (sonic moments) you’ll hear this year". Obviously that went over a few heads like the user who put plenty of thought into their review of "this horrible excuss for a song in a horrible music Gerne".

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's Only Natural

The Killer's Sam's Town is streaming at mtv for the next few days and having listened to it about three times in the past day I can safely that it's a solid album. I don't know that there is anything as strong as my favorite Hot Fuss tracks like "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine" but all the songs that the band were talking up months ago are stand outs making The Killers the rare group that understands their own strengths. You only need to see all the bad single selections that bands I've liked over the years have made to understand what an unusual quality that is. My current favorite is the next single "Bones" which for some reason I keep wishing would segue into the ending of OMD's "Enola Gay" as it closes. It would sound something like this, only much smoother and without the sloppy editing. So I'm not the next big mash-up artist. I can live with that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Recommended Reading

  • Electronically Yours reviews "Martyr", the sole new track on Depeche Mode's forthcoming The Best Of Volume 1, now that the song has been sent to radio and made it's way onto the internet. I wouldn't know where to find it but I rate the song a bit lower than Orac did in his assessment.
  • Maximus at Voltage finds plenty of evidence of rampant rockism in his excellent deconstruction of The Washington Post's positive review of Ladytron's Witching Hour.
  • XO has an entertaining review of Janet Jackson's new disc that lays out the facts and fallacies of the hype around the record. Note: I don't think he likes it.
  • Arjan has an exclusive download off the new Basement Jaxx disc. It's good to read blogs of those with connections because Arjan has the best free stuff.
  • Tremble Clef takes on Beyonce's upcoming single "Irreplaceable" leading to a truly indepth analysis that ultimately asks "if there is -- or if there should be -- good to be gained from the replaceability of those we once thought we loved".
  • My mp3 blog Electro Downloaded just posted it's link to it's 50th free mp3. Originally it was intended to be something of a podcast, and while you can subscribe to the rss feed with itunes or whatever else you grab podcasts with, the "podcast" turned out to be a commentary free mp3 blog. Oddly enough it has it's own myspace with a blog about the blog that also links to free music streams sort of like I do on my "personal" myspace. Should I consolidate my blogging madness? If I had any sense I would have done it long ago...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Help Of Transportation

This commercial is amazing. Let's examine why:

  • Röyksopp's "Remind Me" provides the soundtrack which, in the particular section of the song that is played, is a perfect match for the airport setting as it gives the jet set vaguely futuristic and loungey background music to kill time to as they are between flights.
  • Erlend Øye is the vocalist on the track and could there be a more appropriate crooner to sing the thoughts of a sensitive caveman? I don't think so.
  • The lyrics we do hear are from the third verse: "everywhere I go, there's always something to remind me, of another place and time". The final "another place & time" line suggest that The Caveman has evolved since the stereotype depicted on the billboard bore any truth but he is unable to escape the prejudice that haunts him even as he is taken by a "futuristic" moving walkway on a journey that his pace and his delightfully aged tennis racket suggest was for leisure.
  • Is there anything better than an advertisement that suggests that their company offends people with it's incorrect and insulting advertising?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Disco's Revenge

French pianist Maxence Cyrin has recorded an album of his nuanced interpretations of electronic classics created exclusively on the piano for Laurent Garnier's F Communications label. Modern Rhapsodies takes on a range of styles covering 80's Depeche Mode and early-era Massive Attack but the album primarily contains reinterpretations techno and rave tracks. Fortunately the release steers clear of the novelty territory it so easily could have slipped making this, along with Jeff Mills Blue Potential, the second notable release this year to attempt a translation of techno into classical music terms. I'm not entirely sure that this signifies an all out movement, but there certainly has been a shift in the musical respectability of a genre that was so thoroughly dismissed critically as disposable drug music in the US during the genre's initial explosion.

Stop by his myspace to hear a couple of complete pieces including his take on Aphex Twin's "Widow Licker" or stop by his section of the F Com site for lengthy previews of the whole album.

Thanks to The Poptastic Pop Tart for posting about the album!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New York New York

A couple of videos promoting Moby's upcoming Go: The Very Best Of Moby leaked this week and here they are with my thoughts above them and quotes about the songs from Moby below.

Deborah Harry handles vocal duties for this Moroder-style track and if she seems comfortable it because Harry has done that sort of thing before. This video featuring a hard partying chihuahua was apparently rejected by Moby but leaked by someone involved with the project who still thinks it's worth watching. It's horrible to be sure, but Moby's released worse videos and there's no other way to hear the song at the moment.

'new york, new york' is a fun and frivolous disco song that i recorded with debbie harry. it's a song about degeneracy and debauchery in new york city, and i'm incredibly honored and happy to have debbie harry doing the vocals. in recording it i kind of wanted it to sound like abba meets the pet shop i said, it's a fun disco song.

As a bonus track on Go in some European countries Moby re-recorded Hotel's "Slipping Away" with French pop star Mylene Farmer who adds the occasional French verse. Interesting stuff.

'slipping away' with mylene farmer... i first met mylene at teany and we became friends and, simply, thought that this would be a really nice song to do together. it was my favorite song from 'hotel', and i'm glad that it's going to get a new life with mylene's beautiful vocals.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Everybody Wants The Same Thing

How about that new Scissor Sisters album? Not all we were expecting, right? I’ve given the album a few complete listens now by way of the preview on their myspace and it’s downgraded Ta-Dah from my “must buy now” list to the “pick up the good tracks from itunes” list. The reason is because it’s just too 70’s, more specifically too Elton John for me, with way too many piano led tracks using the same plonkety plonk groove. It’s not all bad of course, a band that created something as strong as their debut album couldn’t possible derail that quickly, but the album drags in a serious way. Most of the best tracks appear on the second half with songs I can’t stand like “I Can‘t Decide“ & the entirely too long “She‘s My Man“ slowing down the album's flow from the opening. Highlights include the too nasty to be a single “Lights“, the Anna Matronic showcase “Kiss You Off”(which features the additional vocal production of Stuart Price), “Ooh” which was on their major label courting demo as “Blues” and "The Other Side" which falls a bit short of the transcendence of "It Can't Come Quickly Enough". Maybe a third of an great album is enough, but Ta-Dah has too many clunkers and that will probably push that US breakthrough album until the next one.

Check out ChartRigger and XOLondon for a good track by track reviews.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Get The Message

Electronic's best of collection is out this week and to my surprise Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr have done some promotion. An interesting interview in The Independent reveals the bands birth as a refuge from band politics and their initial intention of simply releasing white-label acid house 12" singles. However, the most interesting part of the piece is when they discuss developing their self-titled debut album in the middle of the party that was Madchester:

"Bernard was like the Pied Piper, but dressed all in white," laughs Marr. "He'd come back to the studio about 4am with an entourage of our friends, and we'd get a chance to road-test our new songs. One time we had "Idiot Country" blaring out and Bez [of Happy Mondays] was talking to my wife. I noticed he wasn't dancing, so I slowed the tempo down until he started to shuffle again. That's when I knew we'd got it right."

: Click here to listen to Get The Message: The Best Of Electronic for the rest of the week.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Running The World

Jarvis Cocker's Live 8 inspired "Running The World" has been making the rounds for a little while now and it now it has a video. If you haven't heard it yet then give it a listen because it's brilliant. The YouTube version I embedded with this post seems to have synch issues so try streaming it by realplayer if that sort of thing bothers you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I'm Getting Loud With You

Soulwax's remix album Nite Versions if finally out in CD form, after a run as an itunes exclusive, in the US this week almost exactly one year after it was available to the rest of the world. Taking a cue from the old school, and an album title from Duran Duran, Soulwax rerecorded most of their 2004 Flood produced album "Another Minute" in extended mix form and present it in a continuous mix that is utterly fantastic. Highlights include their take on Daft Punk's "Teachers" where they list their own influences, the trippy "Compute", the LA Style shout out on "I Love Techno" and DFA's remix of "NY Excuse" but it's worth noting that the album as whole makes for a great listen.

Stream the album here for the rest of the week and enjoy this download of "Miserable Girl" to get a taste of what it's about. If that isn't enough you can watch the "E-Talking" video that features a random cameo from Arthur Baker as a bouncer in the final shot or the video for my favorite recent shouty electro song "NY Excuse":

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gone Daddy Gone

Sean Demery, the program director at Live 105, just stepped down and despite my disagreement with some of his decisions I'm sad to see him go. His tenure at the station has helped turned the station back into something listenable that resembles the station I once loved after the horrible years in the late 90s and I give him props for that. His replacement is long-time music director Aaron Axelson so things aren't likely to change too much, but given that Axelson has a history with electronica this might open the door a little wider for the return of Subsonic. Time will tell and ultimately what I'd really like to hear is more electronic stuff on in regular rotation.

Just a side-note but the Mercury News mentions that Axelson "books the San Francisco indie club Popscene", something he occasionally talks about on air, which might have had something to do with The Killers recent "secret show" at the club which brought the club to attention of the international press. Still it's not like I begrudge the guy his moment because it's noble to have passion for new music in the world of commercial radio that is notoriously for only playing songs after they are hits.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Short Bits

  • Pet Shop Boys made it official and announced "Numb" as the next single on their website. It was an expected move because the track was originally recorded to be a single for "PopArt", which is finally getting it's US release October 3rd, and after two dance singles they must have wanted to show off the slow side of the album but I'm disappointed because it's likely the last Fundamental single which strands the utterly amazing "Integral" in the "fan-favorite" category instead of turning it into the politically important populist anthem it should be. PopJustice were right on the money when they said that it should have been the first single ages ago.
  • The Modern have called it quits or at least they are doing some reshuffling. Electronically Yours found a press release buried on the band's forum that announces the band's intention to change it's name to Matinee Club in conjuction with some line-up changes. I'm late getting on The Modern bandwagon because they have one of the least functional official sites I've ever used and a myspace that often autostarts on a song clip, but XO recently helped win me over with a few posts on the band. Apparently what material The Modern had completed will still be released and their US debut EP is still on for later this year.
  • The Lovemakers are releasing a series of cover songs in a one a week on fashion on their myspace as they ramp up for their next album. Synthman Jason Proctor left the band this past spring to pursue a day job at a start up and they replaced him with a guitarist so these new covers confirm suspicion that their edgy take on Human League styled synthpop from their self-titled and self released debut album is now in the distant past and you can read this recent interview to see their thinking behind it. Still their version Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" is the best of the bunch in these new covers so it's worth checking out.
  • DJ Fresh's album Escape From Planet Monday is finally up on US itunes this week so you can grab "Throw" which features Neil Tennant singing the chorus. It's more of a mood piece with a bit of spoken story than a traditional song so it makes no sense outside of the album but it's not without it's charm reminding me a bit of Bilingual with a bit of latin groove going on and a similar guitar style on the track. Stop by fansite and click on the "PSB Mp3 Player" to give the track a listen.
  • I was probably the only person on the internet not angry about the upcoming Depeche Mode Best Of because the band have recieved more exposore for Playing The Angel and the supporting tour than Exciter brought them so I understand that urge to go back and cash in and DM usually do more troubling things to their fans like release three versions of their remix album, but then I noticed that this a "Volume 1". What's that about? They last released singles compilations that split the bands material into two eras in 1998 and one would think that this would be for the more casual fan that wanted an overview of the band's history. Why is this "Volume 1" when they've only released two albums between Greatest Hits collections? Does this mean that "Volume 2" coming in the spring? I suppose it doesn't matter because the same die hard collectors that already shelled out hundreds of dollars to get the remastered DM albums that have been released this year will pull out their credit cards and hand over more money to Depeche and EMI-owned Mute. Oh, I'm not expecting too much from the collections new track "Martyr" even if it got good reviews from an associate of the band that heard it being recorded. PTA is good album, but really short on strong songs with single potential and despite the heavy gothic overtones there are moments of brightness on the album so I doubt that was left off for simple "not fitting the record" reasons. Then again, I've become a bit cynical about DM over the years. Hopefully I'll be proven wrong.

Monday, September 04, 2006

No Need To Rush It

Basement Jaxx new album Crazy Itch Radio is out in most of the world today with a US release due next week. Looking around the net it seems that the general consensus is that shine has worn a bit thin for the duo over the years. It certainly doesn't help that they were dropped from Astralwerks after the Grammy winning "Kish Kash", my favorite Jaxx album, failed to meet sales expectations or that they've used the stale radio-as-basis-of-a-concept-album thing for their new release. It was a bad idea when Junkie XL explored that same conceit three years ago, but given their level of skillalude I'm willing to give Crazy Itch a chance.

Having read a number of interviews with the band I was surprised when I stumbled into an interesting profile in The Times which gets to the essence of what they are about. More than simply electronic artists Felix Buxton is annoyed "the way people think we’re dance producers with bleepy boxes, when what we do is write songs in different styles" and we learn from Simon Ratcliffe that the chose radio as a the foundation for their album "because there isn’t one track that can fully represent us." I think that's a fair way of viewing the duo and it puts them further into the pop camp as the piece suggests although they weren't too pleased with their recent tour experience opening up for Robbie Williams as they "learnt that we don’t want to support anyone ever again.”

Download Crazy Itch Radio's first single "Hush Boy".

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Good As Gold

Although "Sexor" had been available as an itunes exclusive Tiga's album it has just been relaunched in the US with the album finally making it's way to college radio and being released to the other download services as well as a new version up on itunes with mixes from DFA, Jespher Dahlback and Chicken Lips. To celebrate here is a download of "(Far From) Home" and the video which has a fantastic opening that feels like a Wes Anderson movie before moving on to the standard surreal Spike Jonze/Michel Gondry inspired imagery: