Thursday, December 21, 2006

Are you ready for this?

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Are you ready for a show of devotion? Shriekback channels Wham! on this jazzy little number from rom 1984's Jam Science:

Shriekback - Mercy Dash

Thursday, December 14, 2006

sweet zounds

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Zoundssss his wounds iswounds zwounds zounds. I guess I can see how slurring british drunks confessing their sins to one another in a dark bar could get "zounds" from the oath "his wounds." It's a stretch, but those cockney brits say some fucked up hot shit.

In the late 70's Zounds were squatters, punks, into anarchy but an intellectual strain of it a far cry from what your average pimply teenage anarchist idolizes these days. They were somehow linked to Crass, but weren't as noisy and in your face, favoring instead a more stripped-down, rigid sound. They recorded and mixed their only LP The Curse of Zounds (1980) in five days. It's a classic, and has been reissued with a spat of singles they released before the album proper, so buy it from Insound

Zounds - Cant Cheat Karma

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No Words

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This here gem is from Clan of Xymox's self-titled first album - ugly cover, beauteous song. So simple and pretty and New Order-like.

Clan of Xymox - No Words

Friday, December 08, 2006

Early Ants

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This is my jam today, from Dirk Wears White Socks, the only LP from the original Adam and the Ants lineup. This album is obviously a favorite of mine, where I got the name for this blog etc. So yeah, it's great, Mr. Ant is all like contemplating creation and religion and the crazy animals he sees at the zoo.

Adam and the Ants - The Idea

"I could be religious - if they set the hymns to disco, like this..."

Buy it from Amazon

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Totally Taco

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Taco. So eighties. So bad that it's amazingly good. For all you haters, I give you Taco. Totes.

Taco - Livin' in my Dreamworld

You gotta love the irony of the most 80's dude you've ever heard hating on the 80s and wishing he was Cary Grant instead.

Buy it at MusicStack (or not)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Big in India

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Last weekend when I was running around my apartment all crazy looking for a suitably dry white wine to throw in the fondue pot, my pal Tyler did me the favor of putting on a new record. He picked at random and on popped Boney M Night Flight to Venus, and all the kids wanted to know who it was

In the late 70's Boney M were like super-mega-ultra stars in Europe and the Soviet Union and Southeast Asia and all over the world really, but relatively unknown in the states. So while your average foreigner knows and loves Boney M (they are the featured act to wrap up this years International Film Festival of India), their kitschy retro-futuristic pan-continental discofunk is new territory for many. Some superfun tracks from Night Flight to Venus(1978):

Boney M - Night Flight to Venus
Boney M - Rasputin
Boney M - Painter Man
Boney M - By the Rivers of Babylon

Buy it from Amazon


Boney M was put together in 1975 by German producer Frank Farian after his song "Baby do you Wanna Bump" became a hit in parts of Europe - he needed a group to present to the media and perform live etc, so rounded up some West Indian dancers and called them Boney M. Interestingly, this wasn't the only time this guy ghostwrote - he was also the mastermind behind the whole Milli Vanilli controversy. Can't really blame the guy - he presaged the wildly successful forumula that is a staple of (bad) pop music today - get talented people to write and record music for a marketable performer type who takes all the credit.

Boney M - Baby do you Wanna Bump

Sunday, November 12, 2006

postcard artifact heart attack

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Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI'm tired of scouring Limewire at strange hours of the night trying to find yet-to-be- pirated-by-me Josef K songs, so I was very smiley back in August when I heard that Domino was releasing an anthology of their bestest things titled "Entomology." Yay, on November 20 the shitty quality copy of "Radio Drill Time" I'll be sharing in a few lines will be upgraded to a bright shiny CD quality version. And how.

Here are some tracks:

Josef K - Radio Drill Time
Josef K - Crazy to Exist
Josef K - Fun 'n' Frenzy

Mm? They're all included on the album - buy it here.


At the peak of it all frontman Paul Haig left the band to pursue solo projects, ending up a sort of bland synthpop cliche as seen on here on this track from his first album "Rhythm of Life" (for some strange reason I love the silly vaguely oriental riff in this song):

Paul Haig - Adoration

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Raincoats, girl drummers, life 2.0

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I love girl drummers, espeically the ladies from ESG, Kleenex/Liliput, the Raincoats. These are my girls. They keep their drumming simple and sparse, rarely riding any noisy cymbals, rarely cluttering things up with overly-complicated and show-offy fills, never bound to the standard repertoire of mainstream manly drumming convention.

Palmolive from the raincoats is a perfect example - totally creative, totally crafty and homespun in feeling. The Raincoats remind me a bit of Delta 5, especially the staggered stiff vocal harmonies, but their sound is decidedly less muscular and polished. From their self-titled debut (1980):

The Raincoats - Adventures Close to Home
The Raincoats - No Side to Fall In

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the moves moves makes me nervous

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Sometimes no wave has too much no and not enough wave. For example, I prefer the more accessible work of James Chance to the noisy mess of DNA. It's probably better to assume that most no wave acts did it all, not restricting themselves to one style or genre or "wave," but rather producing accessible pleasant work as well as noisy challenging feedback puke - that breadth of output is what makes them no wave - but I still tend to put no wave groups into one of those two boxes.

I always thought Lydia Lunch belonged more to the DNA camp, full of noisy scary things, but "Lazy in Love"from her group 8-Eyed Spy had me thinking otherwise - until I listened to the rest of the album and some live stuff. Don't let the polished, tight, melodic bliss of this song fool you, the rest of the stuff is pure no wave abrasion. Obviously she's a woman of many talents.

8-Eyed Spy - Lazy in Love
8-Eyed Spy - Diddy Wah Diddy (Captain Beefheart cover)


Awesome free no-wave mix + annotated tracklisting from the Optimo guys, and

Awesome no wave photo archive!!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Importance of Being Synthetic

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Daniel Miller is best-known for his behind-the-scenes work as producer for early-period Depeche Mode, as well as his role as founder of experimental/industrial label Mute -- but he also released some excellent material as an artist in his own right.

As "The Normal,"  Miller used the sharp and piercing sounds of early electronic instruments to full effect on 1978's "Warm Leatherette," a futuristic noire whiplash inspired by J.G. Ballard's car-crash-fetish novel Crash. You've all heard the song - it's been covered by everyone and their mother (Grace Jones, Chicks on Speed, Vitalic etc). Here's the original.

The Normal - Warm Leatherette

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Somewhat more obscure is his subsequent work as Silicon Teens, a completely fabricated group that he invented to take responsibility for Music for Parties, an album of electronic versions of 50's and 60's rock tunes. The covers are cutesy and fun, but the best tracks from the album are the three original songs - including this one with vocals by one-time Depeche Mode tour-manager Daryl Bamonte

Silicon Teens - Sun Flight

Bonus - video for Silicon Teens' version of "Memphis Tennesse"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In the Beginning there was Rhythm

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If you've read here before it's no surprise that I like to remind people of the early work of bands who's success and fame have resulted in a generally singular idea or notion of said band at the expense of other facets. A perfect example, and one of my favorite bands (often a shock to people who know my tastes), is R.E.M., mostly their early work, especially their first album Murmur.

Before mainstream success, R.E.M. was THE bridge between punk/post-punk and alternative. Along with bands like the B-52's and Pylon they spawned a whole scene of early-80's Athens art-rock that helpfed fertilize alternative movements throughout the country. Taking the minimal rhythms of post-punk and adding lots of pretty guitar work and simple and unexpected melodies, Murmur is a far cry from R.E.M. as most people know them. If you recoil at the thought of "Everybody Hurts" balladry, give this a listen and allow me to prove myself right - this early shit is good.

R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe
R.E.M. - Pilgrimage
R.E.M. - Laughing
R.E.M. - Moral Kiosk

Thursday, September 07, 2006

These waters once were clean

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I recently saw Urgh! A Music War at the Egyptian, thanks to a heads up from Bret over at post-punk junk, and man was it fantastic. Klaus Nomi, thirty feet tall? Yes please. I highly recommend seeing it larger than life, but screenings don't appear to happen all that often, so do what you need to do to see it (your local indie video store maybe?). In honor of Urgh! here are some of the finer new-wave moments from the film, alongside the studio versions of said moments for comparison and contrastison.

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After The Police's intro (Stewart Copeland's brother Miles produced Urgh!), Wall of Voodoo kick things off with crazy eyes and flesh-crawling blurbling bass and synths on "Back in Flesh."

Wall of Voodoo - Back in Flesh
Wall of Voodoo - Back in Flesh (URGH!)

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Later on is Oingo Boingo doing "Ain't this the Life," a song so intricate and well-crafted it's no surprise it's the product of someone who aspired to more erudite forms of composition.

Oingo Boingo - Ain't this the Life
Oingo Boingo - Ain't this the Life (URGH!)

Bonerus - Gary Numan's performance of "Down in the Park" in Urgh! is a futuretastic neon-deco eye-feast that will change your life.

Gary Numan - Down in the Park

You can see most of the Urgh! performances on YouTube, but the quality is awful so beware, you might be underwhelmed. Once you've seen it big there's no turning back.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Let's skip the history lesson

I'm going to the Oregon Coast tomorrow morning, and this means quiet time with the family, long drives along the sea, and long sits in the "sun" room listening to my ipod while looking out at the inevitable rainy oregon sky. Houses in oregon shouldn't have sun rooms. Also: bonfires, hiking, biking, berry-picking, pie-making, tennis, boardgames, and lots of eating and drinking. Sound like some good old fashioned fun? It is. This is what the beach in front of our house looks like:

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Whenever I go up there I end up with a lot of time on my hands. My mind slows down and thoughts that I haven't thought in a while linger back to my conscious mind. I mostly think about old people that are no longer in my life - old friends, old crushes, old enemies, people from my past in general. And I always end up listening to early OMD, it complements the vaguely sad never-again-will-that-happen feeling that old memories often bring. These two songs in particular from their self-titled debut LP with the beautiful Peter Saville designed sleeve:

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OMD - Messages
OMD - Almost

Andy McCluskey's singing on "Almost" is amazing. The perfect song for dwelling on past lives.

I also usually end up listening to Soft Cell, who I could devote a whole weeks worth of posts about because they are one of my favorite acts ever. A few words about soft cell and my love affair with them. It started out with Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, I was SO surprised to discover that they weren't a one hit wonder and that they actually had an album full of good songs (frustration?! sex dwarf?!!) I would defend them to my friends - "they're not a one hit wonder, check this out!" - and sit back in satisfaction as I watched them helplessly jerk around to sex dwarf.

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THEN....then I discovered that they weren't even a one-album wonder, as I secretly thought. The Art of Falling Apart is also fine, fine fine, home to my favorite Soft Cell song "Loving You, Hating Me." And now I love it all, every single song about the same tired subjects - pills, alcoholism, anonymous sex, blackmail, lies, and the narrowing of eyes. It's so godamn trite and I love every minute of it. Here are two of my favorites.

Soft Cell - Seedy Films
Soft Cell - Loving You, Hating Me

The relationship Marc Almond sings about in Loving You/Hating Me is pure gay truth. That's all, thanks for listening.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Purple Hearts all around...

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I really wanted to post tonight and I'm tired, so I'm just gonna post without doing the requisite fact-checking. Kissing the Pink/KTP was (is?) an amazing collective of musicians loosely based around the Royal College of music in London who got together in the early 80's and turned their entire house into a giant installation art piece and recording studio. They had a bunch of equipment in the living room and they were super prolific, recording demo after demo after demo. The first album "Naked" is awesome, the kind of unexpected creative mishmash that makes other experimental synthpop and new wave bands seem one-dimensional. Naked was reissued in June, buy it here

Kissing the Pink - Frightened in France
Kissing the Pink - Big Man Restless
Kissing the Pink - Maybe This Day

You can download Naked in its entirety, as well as numerous demo versions of all its songs, as well as a bunch of other album material and demos and live material and pretty nearly their whole discography from KTP friend Jeff Grote's site

Grote says the demos, which I haven't had time to listen to, are even better than the polished studio versions. And this album stuff is pretty damn great so that makes me excited.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I love losers

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The Monochrome Set did lose out on a piece of the pop prize. They could have been big, but they weren't, which sucks for them but makes writing about them now that much more gratifying. Actually I'm too lazy to write about them, so here's what Aidan Meritt had to say about them in Positive Vibrations, his now-defunct Robyn-Hitchcock-obsessed zine from the early nineties:

I spoke to Robyn Hitchcock in Leeds one cold October night and asked him why the Soft Boys never became pop stars; he replied that like the dBs, the Soft Boys were one of the great "loser bands". Regrettably, the Monochrome Set fall into the same category. So how do we define a "loser band"? The simplest definition is a band that did everything right musically, had the charisma to carry it all off, won critical acclaim but never made it pay. A band that, had they sold one more single, had one more song on the radio, bought one more round at some muso executive's local hostelry, would have hit the big time with the force of a skinhead's boot. The fate of the "loser band" is to see copyists laughing all the way to the bank whilst they take their instruments down to the pawn shop. The Monochrome Set got closer than most to stardom, but were doomed by being just that little bit too good to be snorting cocaine off a naked model's breasts. Their glamour and mystique were just that little bit too subtle to allow them entrance to Stringfellow's; instead they were stuck with the college circuit and the occasional heading of the bill at the Rock Garden. The occasional tearful eulogy in the music press is their only reward.

The Monochrome Set were the archetypal post-punk art-school band. Formed from the ashes of Adam and the Antz (note the spelling), they began with a brace of wiry, angular singles on Rough Trade between 1978 and 79 with the core of their line up being Andy Warren (bass), Lester Square (guitar) and the enigmatic Bid on lead vocals; his most memorable claim was that he was descended from Indian princes. He was handsome and stylish enough to carry it off. Virgin Records' Din-Disc subsidiary clearly saw their potential and by 1980 they were in the studio recording their debut album The Strange Boutique. What can I say in a few sentences to do justice to this record? How can I explain to the uninitiated the class that oozes from its every pore? If one can imagine a classy swinging London party, probably circa 1966, with Andy Warhol, Jane Fonda, the Aga Khan and Mary Quant in attendance. Visualise the luxuriant seating, the fancy cocktails, imagine how exclusive the entrance to that party is. That's what The Strange Boutique sounds like. The album grazed the lower reaches of the national chart and there must have been a feeling that one more album of a similar standard could have shot the Monochrome Set to stardom.

"Eine Symphonie" is a single they released before recording The Strange Boutique, followed by a live version of the title track from the debut that appeared on live album "Fin" in 1985 and again on its renamed incarnation "The Good Life" in 1992.

The Monochrome Set - Eine Symphonie des Grauens
The Monochrome Set - Strange Boutique (live)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

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In the late 70's and early 80's, The Homosexuals took the DIY-I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude of punk and carried it a step further by actually not giving a fuck. They totally isolated themselves from any sort of scene, purposely alienated themselves from less open-minded fans with their awesome choice of name, and winkingly deconstructed any bits of their music that bordered on pop or beauty or accessibility.

Core members Bruno, Anton, and Jim were amazingly prolific during the band's short existence (not surprising for chaps of the post-punk era), and almost everything they ever recorded as a band is included on the 3xCD Astral Glamour, released on Messthetics in 2004. Deciding which songs to post was difficult, as there is a huge range of styles encompassed here, but I'd say these tracks are among the more accessible for any new listeners. There are some beautiful moments in many of the songs, but they rarely fully indulge the listener by repeating the hooks and sweet riffs -- almost as if they think giving us what we want is some sort of creative compromise.

The Homosexuals - Hearts in Exile
The Homosexuals - You're Not Moving the Way That You're Supposed to
The Homosexuals - Collapsible You
The Homosexuals - Pamela

Buy it from Messthetics here


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Jim was involved in several other experimental and sonically-haphazard projects during and after The Homosexuals. His band L Voag released an album The Way Out that contains the original version of "Kitchen" that Drew Daniels covered on the most recent Soft Pink Truth album.

L Voag - Kitchen

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Another project of his was the Just Measurers, who recorded an album Flagellations

Just Measurers - Calling All Teenagers

Again, both of these tracks are among the most accessible found on either of these records. Both records can be donwloaded in their entirety (!) for free from Insect and Individual.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's Cooler Than Being Cool

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Consummate French coldwavers KaS Product are, well, ice cold.  They sing songs about cold people who are dead on the inside, they have frosty dentine ice breath, they dance in abandoned industrial factories, and they have the coolest hair all the damn time.

At their best, KaS Product sound like what Siouxsie and the Banshees might have if they had been produced by DAF. "So Young But So Cold," from their 1982 debut LP Try Out, has become something of a poster track for coldwave, and was the namesake of Tigersushi's 2004 coldwave compendium So Young But So Cold: Underground French Music 1977-1983.

Kas Product - So Young But So Cold

At their worst (which is kind of the best), singer Mona Soyoc's jazz-background-influenced histrionics overpower everything and land them in the realm of schmaltzy cabaret schtick. The raunchy little role playing bit she has with her, erm, pussy cat in "Pussy X" is exactly what I'm talking about. If you can stand this sort of thing, it's actually really amazing and hilarious.

Kas Product - Pussy X

See the hair in action below in the 1982 video for "Never Come Back." Electroclash kids eat your asymmetrical hearts out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Tomitas

It's 4th of July, America's birthday, day of beer and fire and meat and sweaty pride and, generally, bad music. Even if I did have any interesting songs about America or renditions of the spangly banner I wouldn't post them because that would be boring. Instead I'll play contrarian and take this day to celebrate two Japanese geniuses by the name of Tomita.

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In 1996 Japanese super-producer Yann Tomita teamed up with squeaky j-pop fruits the Doopees. The result is 1996's insane "Doopee Time," which you can download in its entirety from WMFU's Beware of the Blog or buy from Amazon

Yann Tomita - How does it Feel

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Isao Tomita, no relation to Yann Tomita, is a synth-buff and composer who pioneered the bridge between classical and electronic music along with other synth-heads like Ruth White and Wendy Carlos. But whereas White and Carlos took a color-by-number approach to translating classical pieces into electronic ones, Tomita amassed an aresnal of analog synths and twiddled knobs to create space-age interpretations of modern classics. No real instruments on earth even come close to Tomita's beauteous synthesizers. In 1974, this totally amazing version of Debussy's "Claire de Lune" made him famous in Japan and garnered him crossover success in the US. It's a masterpiece in its own right, I bet Debussy would have agreed.

Isao Tomita - Claire de Lune (Debussy)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Long Distance Relationships: An Exception

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI'm a sucker for new music that sounds old--it's an art, really, making new stuff sound old. If I played you Your City Below and told you it was a british post-punk band from 1979 you would believe me, and you would like it, and the only place you could find it would be their myspace page, the very opposite of vintage so go figure.

Your City Below is an "online collaboration" between a guy who lives in Maryland and a guy who lives in NY. Does this mean that one guy records something and then sends it to the other and he adds his part and then sends it back and so on and so forth? I dont' know, but it would be amazing if these guys were channeling Josef K and Orange Juice without ever meeting in the flesh.

These fellows are in the formative stages, they've barely had their umbilical cord cut from mother post-punk, and these demos are their first words. They won't be playing any shows anytime soon so show them your love on their myspace page, they only have 19 friends.

Your City Below - Our Militia (Demo)
Your City Below - Sisters of Men (Demo)
Your City Below - Trade Her Life (Demo)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Nose bleeding heat

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It's so sweltering hot all I can do is sweat and listen to the Durutti Column. Lulling guitarscapes like lapping waves of a shimmering body of water to cool me down and make me sigh ahhhh. I've been bled dry of all my energy and effort.

I have nothing to say, except to apologize for being repetitive and boring, because that's how I feel for posting ANOTHER factory release produced by the SAME Martin Hannett who produced the Names and Minny Pops tracks posted below. Oh well. These tracks are from the Durutti Column's first album, 1980's "The Return of the Durutti Column."

The Durutti Column - Sketch for Summer
The Durutti Column - Conduct
The Durutti Column - Requiem for a Father

PS I do listen to *new music* too, i'll post some soon i promise.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

John Foxx

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John Foxx hasn't gotten his due. Sure, he's well respected and people know who he is and stuff but I never hear people freak out about how great he is. He was so underapreciated as a solo artist that he even abandoned music (the equivalent of Aristotle giving up philosophy or something) for ten years before resurfacing in 1997. So right now I'm gonna freak out about how great he is.

I mean, if we were talking "Twins" the movie, Ultravox! with John Foxx is Arnold Schwartzeneger and Ultravox with Midge Ure is Danny Devito. "Ultravox!," the debut album is the kind of fantastic that can only be the result of two geniuses, John Foxx + Briann Eno, and I can't wait for it, along with the subsequent two Foxx-led Ultravox albums, to be remastered and reissued all deluxe styles next month (pre-order here).

After a few great albums, Foxx went solo and released a few more great albums that were relatively unsuccesfull. Which is not to say that they weren't amazing. The first, Metal Beat, is classic Foxx -- the baroque funk of the title track and plenty of synth heavy noire-electro about cement and cars and other futurist-fetishized objects.

John Foxx - Plaza
John Foxx - Metal Beat

His second solo album, Garden, is a bit more organic. "Europe after the Rain" is THE POOP, and Pope John Paul II named Foxx's rendition of "The Lord's Prayer (Pater Noster)" his favorite jam of 1981. I'm serious.

John Foxx - Europe After the Rain
John Foxx - Pater Noster

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


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Who needs a million dollar mixing board and a sound room as tight as a drum anyway? All you really need these days to crank out great music is an old toy synth, a crappy drum machine, a bass, a few good songs, and a free demo version of any recording program. If that formula doesn't wow the sneering music critics in the audience, dress yourself in nothing but khaki for seven years and see if that helps.

xVOYx made music and played shows in Los Angeles throughout 2004 and 2005. They self-released two EP's before splitting up last year, but re-band for the occasional secret show to appease their smallish but loyal cabal of fans.  If you like these songs from their debut self-titled EP, head over to their myspace page to hear some tunes from the second EP.

xVOYx - Remorse
xVOYx - Cut 2 Me
xVOYx - Mutual Tooth + Claw

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mannequin Piss and the Golden Showers

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More Belgian bands to keep Minny Pops (below) company. The Names are another belgian band that, like Minny Pops, ended up recording a single with Martin Hannett at Factory and that, also like Minny Pops, were pigeonholed as Joy Division apes by all the monkeys and sheep. "Spectators of Life", their first single, was pressed straight from demo. Sounds pretty good. "Nightshift" (Fac 29), all dark and spacious-like, is the Hannett-produced track, and is included on the most recent Hannett retropsective, Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977-1991.

The Names - Spectators of Life
The Names - Nightshift

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Vocoder masters Telex, part of the robotic brotherhood of electronic music pioneers that includes kraftwerk and YMO, share with Devo an aesthetic sense/sense of humor that plays up the prefab plastic pop disposability of modern music. Really they are all just the various organs of one big bleep blooping man-machine. "Moskow Diskow" is a classic, one of those songs that you've heard a bunch but may not have ever known who it was. "Twist a St. Tropez" is a cover of an old Guy Laffite song, and "Euro-Vision" is the song Telex wrote, tongues firmly in cheek, to represent Belgium in the annual Eurovision song contest, which is dissertated upon quite entertainingly over at Pogoagogo. They got 17th place.

Telex - Moskow Diskow
Telex - Twist a St. Tropez
Telex - Euro-Vision

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dance for a better tomorrow

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It's funny to hear serious political sentiment in music that may sound otherwise playful and cartoonish, like being on the Small World ride and getting lectured by the smiling robots in their small world voices about the pitfalls of being a consumer pig. Heaven 17, ex-Human Leaguers and founders of the British Electric Foundation, epitomize this kind of contrast, bringing the classic cartoon synthpop sound that was the hallmark of drunken 80's triviality and occasionally sobering it up with criticism of American-style consumerism and fascist conservatism.

These songs sound too fun to take seriously, but in 1981 the British government actually banned "Fascist Groove Thang," which likens Reagan to Hitler and conjures up the image of a fascist dance party that needs to be snapped out of its groove. "I'm Your Money," a chugger with a scratching Kraftwerkian beat and needly synths, is equally critical of rampant consumerism and a society in which money is the impetus behind every action -- Bob Sagat would probably say that the deliciously sour synth line after the breakdown is, waiiiit for it, money.

Heaven 17 - Fascist Groove Thang (We Don't Need This)
Heaven 17 - I'm Your Money (Extended Mix)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

His intentions are good but he sits idle

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It's difficult to make writhing and screaming like a feral child under the voodoo spell of a snarling beat sound precise and musical, but not so difficult if that beat is as locked-in as rigor mortis. That's right, artful screaming and rigor mortis beats, the Blackouts, one of the most criminally under-appreciated band of the post punk era. The release of History in Reverse, an anthology of their stuff, by K in 2004 didn't have the earth-shattering impact that it should have. Fans of Wire and Bauhaus and the darker side of post punk should have been going ape shit over this unusual stateside addition to the post-punk diaspora. Those of you who have heard this stuff know what I'm talking about, and for those of you who missed it, here's four tracks from '80/'81 that give all those endlessly exalted british bands a run for their money.

The Blackouts - Probability
The Blackouts - Dead Man's Curve
The Blackouts - Young Man
The Blackouts - Industry

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Bill Rieflin's drumming makes my pants tight. In an interesting turn of rocknroll genealogy, Rieflin and the rest of the band, save for singer Erich Werner, were absorbed into Ministry after the Blackouts disbanded in 1985.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I wanna see you dance

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Minny Pops is one of the lesser known post-punk/darkwave/avant electro acts to be associated with the Factory/Factory Benelux labels. Forming as The Tits in their native Belgium in the late 70's, Minny Pops became Minny Pops (named after a Korg drum machine) in 1978.

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In 1980 they opened for Joy Division at a several dates in Belgium, catching the fancy of the folks at Factory. They were invited overseas to play at the Factory I/Russell Club in Manchester, and shortly thereafter were recording the Dolphin Spurt/Goddess single (FAC 31) with Martin Hannet. This single is what usually comes up when talking about Minny Pops, but in my opinion it's not as strong as Secret Story/Island (FAC 57), their other single with Factory, or some of their demos (it's just the "Hannet Factor" at work). Anyhow, "Secret Stories," released on CD by LTM in 2003, compiles both Factory singles as well as some unreleased demos and compilation tracks.

Below is the Secret Stories/Island single as well as two unreleased gems from the period between the Factory singles and their second and best album, Sparks in a Dark Room (FBN 15). All four tracks contain Minny Pops' characteristic motorik beats, left-field electronics, and gloomy vocals. Influences and similarities are immediately apparent -- Middendorp's dark, unadorned, gregorian vocals are strikingly Curtis-esque, and the Body Language demo smacks of early Cure, especially that guitar riff.

Minny Pops - Secret Story
Minny Pops - Island
Minny Pops - Time (12" mix)
Minny Pops - Body Language (Demo)

Secret Stories and Sparks in a Dark Room are both available on iTunes, or you can Buy direct from LTM here.