Swedish synthpop is generally known to be fantastic, and Lust For Youth does a great job of continuing this stereotype. While I highly recommend you check out their full length albums (Perfect View and especially International have been on my heavy rotation for a few years now), their newest single is a downtempo number that reminds me of the best Martin Gore-helmed Depeche Mode songs. It’s fitting in perfectly with my leisurely, cat-cuddle filled Saturday morning, so I thought I’d share.
While celebrity deaths don’t faze me much, David Bowie’s was pretty crushing. To have a small celebration of his life, some friends and I watched The Hunger and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. I’d never seen the latter, and was pleasantly surprised at the layers of meaning and fantastic soundtrack (not to mention The Kiss.) Even better, the movie reminded me of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s existence. I had heard and loved his film scores for years, but had no idea he was an actor (who wears his everyday new wave/glam makeup while playing a military captain, but whatever.) After a bit more digging I realized that not only does Sakamoto have a thriving solo career, but he was also a member of Yellow Magic Orchestra, who are pretty much the pioneers of synthpop in Japan.
Yellow Magic Orchestra was one of the first bands to focus on synth music in the 70s. While Kraftwerk was a big influence on them, they wanted their music to be “less minimalistic, made more varying use of synthesizer lines, introducing ‘fun-loving and breezy’ sounds, and placing a strong emphasis on melody in contrast to Kraftwerk’s statuesque ‘robot pop.'” Incorporating a lot of pop and italo-disco elements, YMO gained popularity worldwide with their innovative use of the newest synth technology and their great composition skills.
Here’s my favourite song by them, Key:
Chandra Oppenheim was 12 years old when she released her only EP, Transportation. Due to her talent and her young age she became a hit in the underground 80s new wave scene, and also collaborated with The Dance. One commenter online says, “I saw her perform either in 1980 or 1981 at a small club in Philly called Omin’s. She had a chaperone with her, and she had to finish her performance before 11 pm because of a curfew. Also, for someone so young she had terrific stage presence.” Add this to the list of things that make me wish time machines existed.
Chandra’s music is synthy, punky, and definitely worth a listen. Fortunately, her original 4 track EP was recently uploaded to Bandcamp with an added 4 previously unreleased tracks! Check out the album here.
Double Echo, that fantastic dark post-punk band from Liverpool, is back with another full-length release. Gloomy bass and guitars pair with vocals that feel straight out of the 80s goth scene to create some spookily delicious soundscapes. La Danza feels like a culmination of the best of their frosty sounds all on one album. Definitely recommend hearing this release, makes for perfect autumn listening! You can find their album at their Bandcamp or on Spotify.
Frankie Teardrop of the fantastic Systems of Romance music blog has created a mix of entirely female-fronted projects in the coldwave, minimal and post-punk vein. It’s a great mix so I highly recommend giving it a listen, and check out the tracklist here for any artists you don’t recognize.
Moev have announced that they’re performing a live show at the Otalith Music Festival this August in Ucluelet, BC. I think their live shows are very few and far between these days, and I myself haven’t been able to catch them live before, so I’m beyond excited! I wanted to get the word out there about the show in case any other die hard fans can make it out. The event info is here, and I’ll end this post with a clip of what is probably my favourite Moev song ever:
This week’s album on repeat is Signals From Afar by a fairly unknown 80s band called The Shortwave Mystery. A duo from California, in 1985 they apparently released a 12″ of the above song, Pilots, that was so unsuccessful that the majority of the records ended up in a landfill. How they didn’t take off is beyond me – their songs combine the best parts of synthpop and minimal-synth, with some EBM sprinkled in for good measure. However, due to resurging interest in the 80s synth scene, the band re-issued their songs into a full-length album a few years ago.
Signals From Afar is excellent from beginning to end – I haven’t been this excited about stumbling upon a band in at least a couple of months. Which actually says a lot. I get excited pretty often.
You can buy their releases directly from the label that re-issued them here.
Just stumbled upon Voltheque, a really neat synth project from Philadelphia. I’ve Known All Along, their second big release, has some songs with a fantastic 80s synthpop feel that I’m really loving. There’s a very diverse mix of moods on the album in addition to high tempo dance numbers – ‘The Bells’ is a spooky spoken word track, and ‘The Stillness’ has a swaying and hypnotic atmosphere that makes for a great closing song.
Listening to I’ve Known All Along in its entirety is kind of making my Friday. You can find it here at their Bandcamp.
Just a quick post about a great local band that played a show here in Vancouver last night. Fake Tears are a synthpop duo who play somewhat eerie tunes that are super catchy. They’re fun and I’m really enjoying the songs they have up on their Bandcamp page here, and looking forward to future releases from them!
It’s a few years old, but I can’t get enough of Frank (Just Frank)’s album The Brutal Wave. Synthpop, post-punk, and coldwave combine to create a fantastic aural landscape that has been making me hit the Repeat button quite a bit these past few days. ‘Beneath’ in particular is steadily earworming its way into my dreams, and I have no complaints.
With a touch of dark 80s inspired synth and vocals, The Brutal Wave is climbing my personal favourites chart. Coming in a close second, their Valerie EP has some great songs as well, including the fantastic dance tune ‘Do The Soviet’.
More band info: Facebook