Monday, April 27, 2009

Video: The Crystal Method featuring Matisyahu "Drown In The Now"

In the last five years The Crystal Method created the first nike/itunes epic running routine download, mixed a compilation, built a studio, wrote a soundtrack and re-released their first album while fans waited for them to recorded a follow-up to 2003's Legion Of Boom. The wait is almost over as we have the fist single from Divided By Night in our figurative hands. "Drown In The Now" finds the duo courting the alt-rock audience, as they always have done, bringing Matisyahu in for vocal duties on a track that is less about raw beats than a fully formed song. Despite my reservations about the vocalist's popularity, that the only reggae hit on rock radio in the last decade is by an overtly religious white guy suggests novelty act to me, the track works well taking TCM in a direction they have not explored before:

: Divided By Night is out May 12. The Crystal Method will be touring in support of the new album and their myspace has details.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Video: Pet Shop Boys "Did You See Me Coming?"

Even international major label artists can create low quality fan music videos. Shot on the lot of a German film studio, perhaps while shooting the official video, the Pet Shop Boys tour manager filmed this with his camera phone. According to Neil "It seemed like a good idea at the time":

: The "Did You See Me Coming?" single is out June 1st featuring three new b-sides plus remixes including the Richard X take on penultimate Yes track "The Way It Used To Be". You will undoubtedly find the official video at the Pet Shop Boys youtube page when it is unveiled.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Neil Tennant Silenced

The forthcoming Chinese release of Pet Shop Boys Yes will feature an instrumental version of the album's closing track "Legacy" because the lyrical content offended government officials:
"Governments fall/Glaciers melt/Hurricanes bawl"; "Resentment remain/both east and west/Police expect/an arrest"; "They're raising an army/in the North/from York Minster/to the Firth of Forth/A pilgrimage of grace/you won't believe it/Such a human face..."

: While this is hardly incendiary material in the West this is right in the mode of the Chinese government's reaction to Bjork performing the "unapproved song" "Declare Independence" last year and I'm surprised I haven't found more in the press about it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Super Synthpop Tuesday

Both Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode have new discs out today. Click on the links to stream both albums.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Zero"

Better bloggers than me pointed this out months ago but Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Zero" is rather amazing. Their new album It's Blitz! finds the band adding electronics to the mix to great effect when paired with strong songwriting. The video finds Karen O out and about on the streets of San Francisco dancing on the roofs of cars in a neighborhood I've parked in before:

: The band, um, blitzed the late night circuit last week and left me wondering how such a moody group ended up with such a pleasant drummer. Listen to more Yeah Yeah Yeahs at their myspace.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Video: Moby "Shot In The Back Of The Head"

After a couple of months of hinting Moby made the official announcement about his next album Wait For Me today. Inspired by a David Lynch speech about creativity without concern of a commercial audience being a good thing Moby recorded the album in his home studio with a few friends as guest vocalists. I'm not expecting a pop record. The first single has a faintly disturbing video directed by David Lynch:

: Wait For Me is out June 30th.

UPDATE: "Shot In The Back Of The Head" is available as a free download at

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Video: Freeland "Under Control"

Adam Freeland made some changes to his approach before embarking on his second album of original material Cope™ imbibing a shot of rock and roll to loosen up his decidedly club oriented roots. Despite the changes there is something incredibly familiar about the album's first single "Under Control" because the project's new singer Kurt Baumann channels LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy (who you may have heard is massively influenced by Mark E Smith) so precisely that it seriously distracts from the song. Like Freeland's previous hit "We Want Your Soul" the lyrics work on a political level this time taking on the war on terror as the powers that be tell us to "relax 'cause nothing is under control" but all I hear is "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House":

Freeland - Under Control - Official Video from Freeland on Vimeo.

: Freeland offer a free download of the song in remixed form at their site. Cope™ is due this June.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

First Look: Bad Lieutenant "Sink Or Swim"

Last month Bernard Sumner did a lengthy sit down interview special for British television. Bernard Sumner Songbook is one of the best interviews I've ever seen with the legend as he opens up on his songwriting process and discusses the entire span of his career including how he & Hooky would fire early drummers with a box of chocolates to the demise of New Order being brought on by his love of electronics. Over the course of the special a song each from his major projects ("Love Will Tear Us Apart", "Bizarre Love Triangle", "Getting Away With It") was performed with acoustic accompaniment and they premiered a song from with his new project Bad Lieutenant. Here is the acoustic version of "Sink Or Swim":

: Bernard announced Bad Lieutenant at the Control premier a couple of years ago and it appears they have been logging some serious studio time. The group picks up where NO left off involving Stephen Morris and Phil Cunningham while adding Jake Evans, Matt Evans (Rambo And Leroy), Alex James (Blur) and Jack Mitchell (Haven) to the mix. No word if the project will release any of the songs written for New Order's never finished 2006 album that would have included their work with producers Brian Higgins and Tore Johansson.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Flashback: The Trip Hop Test, Part One (1995)

The very definition of trip hop was in flux when Moonshine Music released The Trip Hop Test, Part One in January of 1995. The term had already surfaced in the US characterizing the downtempo music coming across the pond from Bristol producers like Tricky and Massive Attack but those listening closer to the underground also described rave music influenced equally by hip hop and psychedelic music by the same name. Was it the same movement? The Trip Hop Test doesn't answer the question but instead presents evidence allowing the listener to decide. Compilations almost always take related tracks to make a statement on a scene or time so taking the risk to ask questions about a scene is one of the most endearing things about the collection. Impressively the disc also manages to catch many of the major players of electronic music before they came to prominence in the later half of decade. Here is the track listing and some thoughts:

Saint Etienne "Filthy"
Originally the b-side to "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" the oldest track on the collection dates from the Saint Etienne's early days when they only had guest vocalists here featuring British rapper Q-Tee who was only 15 when she recorded the track.  The song was later remixed by Monkey Mafia and included on the band's Casino Classics remix collection.
The Dust Brothers "My Mercury Mouth"
Actually a track from The Chemical Brothers taken from the last EP they released as The Dust Brothers before going chemical for legal reasons.  The reason to buy the disc since the track is closer to delicate ambient techno than anything Brothers have released since becoming album artists.
Step Disk "Boing Dragon" 
The disc's first misstep from a group that faded away shortly after releasing this.  Notably "loose" production emphasising samples demonstrate the sound of the time but it is extremely repetitive.
Skylab "Sea Shell" 
This was a massive track on college radio at the time that introduces an unusual laidback beat to an ambient template. This group effort is the first time future Bjork and U2 producer Howie B appeared on my radar.
Paul Weller "Wild Wood (Portishead Mix)"
Who would have guessed the sole representation of the Bristol sound would come from The Modfather?  Portishead weave their Dummy-era sound around the original song's structure incorporating the best of both worlds.  A must for Portishead fans.
The Aloof "Society"
This group is probably better known for their work in other projects which include The Sabres Of Paradise, Red Snapper and the vocals to Luke Slater's 2002 electropop masterpiece Alright On Top.  This track is a bit shouty and has sirens but fails to effectively convey the talent involved.
Tranquility Bass "They Come In Peace"
More music branching out of ambient adding hip hop beats to the mix.  While they would go on to release higher profile albums this is as good as Tranquility Bass ever got.
The Crystal Method "Dubeliscious Groove"
American electronica's great hope turn in an early ambient techno track that sounds unfinished.  Try the far superior Fly Spanish Version from the Keep Hope Alive EP for something that will stick to your brain. 
Single Cell Orchestra "Transmit Liberation"
Another college radio hit here from San Francisco artist Miguel Fierro.  One of my favorite ambient techno tracks of all time.
Lemon Interupt "Minneapolis"
When Karl Hyde and Rick Smith left behind the gothic gloom of their first Underworld outing they added Darren Emerson and gained some techno edge but chose to release their initial offerings, and production on Saint Etienne's Tiger Bay, under the name Lemon Interupt.  This b-side to "Dirty" shows them working their new sound out even if it falls short of essential.
Tales from the Woodshed "Brainclog"
Proto-big beat from a duo that would shorten their name to The Woodshed before disappearing a few short years later.  

:  Moonshine Music would go on to release another two volumes of The Trip Hop Test before branching off into other ventures but they deserve credit for taking a snapshot of electronic music at the crossroads and not giving us the answer key.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Hot Cover Alert: Faith No More "Glory Box"

Sometime before going on hiatus the best hard rock band of the 90s Faith No More played a version of Portishead's "Glory Box" live. It's pretty fantastic: