ALBUM REVIEW: OLD DISORDER IS THE KEY TO NEW ORDER INVIGORATION.

Piet 005

Does life have to make sense? Does music need to feel complete? Or is it the inherent contradictions that make music the life-affirming force it can be?

Did anyone expect a new New Order album? Hooky out, Gillian back? In case you are not keeping score, Hooky (bassist Peter Hook) announced in 2007 that New Order was over and that he was leaving. Eight years later, Barney Summer and the rest of the gang (Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Phil Cunningham & Tom Chapman) has somewhat taken up the challenge to prove Hooky wrong.

And whilst the end product is a sublime dance-rock album of the kind that the original New Order are considered the pioneers of, Music Complete is not really New Order, any more than Electronic or Bad Lieutenant were New Order. The name itself is meaningless – without Hooky’s bass, this is most definitely not New Order.

However, in the final analysis, it makes no fucking difference, does it? With all the electro-pop acts vying for attention in the modern rock wasteland, the old masters have come back from the dead to show the young upstarts how it’s done.

There’s no doubting Summer’s way with a melody (and dodgy lyrics) but it is in the rhythm and the beats that Music Complete excels – big beats, techno, house, disco all mashed up into a heady mixture. “Restless”, “Tutti Frutti” and “Stray Dog” (with Iggy Pop on vocals) all rise like cream to the top but it is in the final number “Superheated” that Music Complete well and truly soars with one of the finest New Order tracks since the glory days of the 80s. “Superheated” is five minutes of sheer electro-pop bliss. Close your eyes and it’s the mid-eighties again.

Gorgeous.

LOVE X STEREO: WE LOVE WE LEAVE, PART 1 – A NEW LEASE ON LIFE FOR 2015

SEOULSONIK 2014

Last June, we did an interview with Annie Ko, frontperson of Korean indie electro-rock trio Love X Stereo. Well, the group is now a duo consisting of Annie and Toby Hwang and is ready for the new year with a new EP, consisting of new material and re-recorded favourites. Part 1 of the We Love, We Leave album is already out now and indie pop fans will enjoy the new viz. the dynamic synth-pop energy of the sultry title track and the throbbing dance-able “My Anywhere” and the ‘old’ viz. the exciting versions of “Soul City (Seoul City)” and “Chain Reaction”. We caught up with Annie again to get some insights of where the duo is right here, right now.

Five of the songs on the new EP are re-worked versions of previously released tracks, why?

We were selected for government support provided by KOCCA in order to make a new record. Before we go any further, we wanted to take a step back to rearrange/rerecord our previous tracks, because we always wanted to. Originally, we wanted to make a LP with mixtures of old & new, but we had a strict time restraint, and that’s why we ended up splitting into two EPs. First one represents “We Love”, and the next one represents “We Leave”.

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PoPTV: APRIL FIFTEEN [VIDEOS]

Some new (official) music videos we’ve come across recently … enjoy!

RENDEZVOUS “EGYPT”

TEGAN & SARA “CLOSER”

CINEMASCAPE “PRIVATE PROPERTY”

DALE EARNHARDT JR JR “IF YOU DIDN’T SEE ME (THEN YOU WEREN’T ON THE DANCEFLOOR)”

BAKER “OVERLOAD”

Yeah I know I know, it’s all fookin’ dance pop innit? NEXT!

 

CLASSIC ALBUMS: DEPECHE MODE – SPEAK AND SPELL (1981) [REVIEW]

There are numerous landmarks achieved with this, the debut album of synth-pop combo, Depeche Mode. Released by Mute Records, it was a rare genuine indie album for its time. Speak and Spell contained also many songs which were amongst the first electronic numbers heard on the airwaves e.g. “New Life”, “Just Can’t Get Enough” and my personal favourite, “Dreaming of Me”. The use of synthesizers instead of the usual guitar, bass and drums instrumentation was so refreshing back in 1981. But what made the music of early Depeche Mode so memorable and timeless are the brilliant songs. Pop songs filled with hooks that captured the imagination of the post-punk generation, and taking Kraftwerk’s uncompromising electronic agenda to its logical conclusion. The album was also the only Depeche Mode LP with then-prinicipal songwriter Vince Clarke (who’d go on with further success with Yazoo, The Assembly and Erasure). Martin Gore would come to the fore in Clarke’s absence, turning the outfit towards the darker material it would become world famous for in subsequent years. Three decades later, thanks to the post-punk revival, Speak and Spell is as relevant as it ever was. Essential.

DEPECHE MODE TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM ON COLUMBIA RECORDS IN MARCH 2013 [NEWS]

Depeche Mode are set to release their 13th studio album in March 2013 on Columbia Records. “I am very happy with how the album turned out,” comments DM’s Martin Gore. “The music has a similar vibe to Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion and I think the songs on the album are among some of the very best we’ve done.” The band has announced that the new album will contain brand new tracks written by Gore and Dave Gahan. Gahan reveals, “The album has a very organic and direct feel to it. It’s not a blues record, but it definitely has a soulful vibe. During the recording process we really tried to get the elements of performing and the live show into the album more.”

Official Site

 

HOT CHIP – IN OUR HEADS

ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD

FACT. Any band worth its salt transcends genre and style. UK band Hot Chip is commonly labeled as a electronic band and whilst it certainly uses synths/electronics to play its songs, it’s the way the band mixes and matches forms and styles to create something distinctively its own that marks Hot Chip out as one of the greats.

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OMD – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

 

It’s no secret that I sometimes wish that I was born at a much later time. Being a young person during the 70s and 80s when rock music was considered ‘yellow culture’ by the Singapore Government (and heavily suppressed) meant that I missed watching my favourite bands coming down to Singapore to play. Of course, the Singapore of 2012 is totally different from the Singapore of 1982, where rock concerts of contemporary popular bands happen almost every week.

Thus far, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to catch a few musical heroes from this era viz. The Police, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Echo & the Bunnymen, Lloyd Cole and even Bob Dylan. Come 10 March 2012, I can add Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark (OMD) to this rather short list as the band play the Esplanade Theatre.

OMD was instrumental in getting me to jump on the post-punk bandwagon back in 1980. I was struck by the band’s performance of Enola Gay in the post-punk/new wave film Urgh! A Music War and the rest, as they say, is history. OMD quickly became one of my favourite bands and I consider the first three albums – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Organisation & Architecture and Morality – to be essential listening for any scholar of the synth-pop epoch.

Back when OMD released its strong comeback album – History of Modern – I was fortunate to be able to interview Andy McCluskey (whom together with Paul Humphries form the core of OMD) via email but now am looking forward to actually speaking to the duo by phone very soon (for TODAY) ahead of their performance during Mosaic Music Festival (MMF) 2012. I can only hope now that I will get a chance to meet my heroes sometime in March. What say you, MMF organizers???

Tickets now available at SISTIC.

Originally posted on 1 Feb 2012

PoPTV – I HATE THIS PLACE

At the recent Singapore Music Forum I met a unassuming young man who introduced himself as Sean. Then he mentioned that he had a band/music project called I Hate This Place. Instantly I loved the name and then finally got a link. Whoa! IHTP basically comes from a similar place as Owl City except that IHTP does not suck! Am not being facetious here! As regular visitors would know, I love my synth pop nice and sweet (but not saccharine!)  and Future Girl, Retro Style fits the bill perfectly – you will be singing that chorus by the end of the track, believe me! Check it out below and make sure you come back for more electronic goodness from I Hate This Place.

Official Site

PoPTV – LOLA DUTRONIC

LOLA DUTRONIC – KIDS JUST WANNA DANCE

The new sexay single from the New York Stories EP, out now on Red Star Digital Music. Download it at iTunes. Enjoy the cool 80s electro-pop vibe.

LISTENING BOOTH: FUTURE ISLANDS

FUTURE ISLANDS – BEFORE THE BRIDGE

For some reason, this song reminds me very much of the Canadian 80s new wave band, Men Without Hats. I suppose it has something to do with the very idea of North Americans singing with a baritone Anglophile accent. Whatever the form, this Baltimore-based band have enough synth-pop savvy to make good use of the now-popular style. In any case this new single Before the Bridge will be the A-side from the 7″ of the same title, out July 19 on Thrill Jockey. Check it out and make your way to Future Islands…

Future Islands – Before the Bridge by thrilljockey

Official Site

DEATH KIT

DEATH KIT Devadesi 7 inch single (Fort Lowell)

Devadesi is Death Kit’s debut physical release following the digital release of their first single, I Can Make You Love Me, in 2010. Said to have been formed in response to “a Los Angeles indie rock scene too witheringly lazy to pursue the potential and precision of electronica”, the band clearly has a lot of confidence in what they have to offer to the scene.

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DESTROYER

DESTROYER Kaputt (Merge)

On previous releases, Dan Bejar (aka Destroyer) pretty much channeled his 60s/70s obsessions through like-minded musical heroes like Syd Barrett, David Bowie and Marc Bolan. On Kaputt (his 9th album), Bejar has moved forward a decade to land perfectly on the 80s! The influences of the aforementioned “three Bs” still linger on but this time via the post-punk movement. Thus, astute listeners will no doubt pick out references to New Order, Japan/Rain Tree Crow, the Blue Nile, Talk Talk, Ultravox & Ryuichi Sakamoto/Yellow Magic Orchestra.

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SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE

Thirty years ago, the 80s began (we thought we’d got John Lennon back but he was all too quickly taken away from us. Damn). I had just been conscripted and had begun to take pop and rock music appreciation seriously. Through the next ten years, I would discover amazing music and bands which to this day continue to thrill and touch me. During the 80s, I got out of army, did four years at Law School, got my degree, got a job, got married and became a father. Music was the soundtrack to it all. People often ask me about the best music of the 80s, so in the spirit of answering that question, here is part one of my top 25 essential LPs of the 80s (in alphabetical order, not by merit).

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ELEKTROMASHICK

Press release

3 acts which showcase live electronic music will take centre-stage at HOME Club on Friday 17 December 2010. Synth-pop quartet Elektone, electro-hip hop act The Lard Brothers and live drum’n’bass crew Breakbeat Theory will share the same stage.

Electronic music with the dynamics of live musicians will be performed as a seamless showcase, akin to a DJ set. The electronically programmed beat sets the pulse for the show while musicians augment the tunes by layering additional pulsating rhythms and carefully crafted melodies.

It would be the first time in Singapore which 3 such acts with different electronic genre leanings have come together to work as a community, presenting their craft as a whole unit.

Details:

Date: Friday 17 December 2010

Time: 2000hr

Venue: HOME Club (22 Upper Circular Road, The Riverwalk)

Ticket charge: S$12 (including 1 drink).

The first 50 guests get an additional glass of Heavy Water vodka.

More info – www.agingyouth.com

BRANDON FLOWERS

BRANDON FLOWERS Flamingo (Island/Universal)

I must confess that I’ve never been much of a Killers fan. This has more to do with the fact that I am a first generation post-punk lover than anything else and just could not get into the warmed up post-punk leftovers that the Killers were getting rich and famous on. But totally from an objective perspective, I can understand where they’re coming from and would still prefer kids to go mad over the Killers music over something vacuous like Justin Bieber, anytime.

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