(Come on Flatpress, let me do an embed…)
Excellent, accessible techno from Brazil, found from the recommended listening page of Questionable Content creator Jeph Jaques (yes, yes, webcomics are bad for you. I know.) I honestly didn’t get into any of the other things currently up there, but Gui Boratto is really excellent.
He strongly reminds me of Underworld, which is an old favorite, but Boratto is perhaps a bit more accessible. Like all accessible techno, it draws comparisons to Daft Punk, which is basically the golden standard for such things, even though the musical style is quite different. “No Turning Back”(embedded from youtube above) off the new album Take My Breath Away is my favorite track thus far. It’s subtle enough to work to, but interesting enough to keep you going, which is how techno should be.
Somehow I missed that Electric Valentine put out an album last November. The album is The Friends With Benefits EP and it is quite good. I went on an Amazon mp3 binge and downloaded their entire catalog… for less than the price of a normal album, and its worth listening through.
Electric valentine is made up of Lauren Baird and Chris Qualls, who are the Singer and Programmer for A Kiss Could Be Deadly. A Kiss Could Be Deadly’s self titled album was probably my favorite album of last year, and everyone with the slightest inclination toward pop/electronic/punk should give it a listen.
Seriously. Right now. Go.
The Electric Valentine tracks are generally a little less dark (the title track *isn’t* about killing a lover’s competing interest) than the A Kiss Could Be Deadly tracks. They also tend to be a little more synthetic sounding (no guitar, more “unnatural” sounds, drum machine instead of drums) and distort the lyrics more (vocoder?). That said, the fucking impeccable pop sensibilities are still there, and Lauren’s voice still manages to be at once incredibly powerful and confident, and, to borrow a phrase, make you want to say “aw honey, It’s going to be OK.” I like. Not quite as much as A Kiss Could Be Deadly, but I like it, especially “Electric Ghosts” and “A Night With You”.
In other synthpop thoughts, I gave Lady GaGa’s extraordinarily popular debut album The Fame another listen and … it’s still mediocre. It has its high points, the first single “Just Dance” is definitely catchy, and “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)” is a good pop song, but all told the album is merely OK for the only really breakout hit from the genre recently. I end up having the same problem, although not to the same degree, with it as when listening to Kanye West — it’s not bad, but it isn’t as clever as it thinks it is, and its terribly self involved.
I have to say I’m fairly pleased with Pop lately, some reasonably Avant-garde interesting stuff is bubbling up into the public conscious, and the indie scene is producing a lot of good things. Examples arranged from the true mainstream to stuff I’d be a little surprised if anyone else had heard of.
* Katy Perry’s One Of The Boys is an absolutely impeccable pop album and far more interesting than the drivel that was passing for pop in the 90s. Definitely my favorite product of The Matrix, who are responsible for a shocking fraction of mainstream pop in the last decade.
* The Lady GaGa Example Above
* Hellogoodbye had their improbable 15 minutes in 2006.
* Vanessa Carlton is continual favorite of mine, and always hovers around on the edge of the mainstream. Heroes and Thieves was a consummate pop album.
* I only recently became aware of Tegan and Sara, a pair of lesbian twins from Canada who write excellent pop.
* The Modern, a fluidly named British Electropop band that finally put out an album in 2008 after years of producing a scattering of catchy individual tracks.
* The A Kiss Could Be Deadly/ Electric Valentine examples above
Links to pay for albums specifically mentioned in the above post (explaining my ethics system for paying for music would be as long as this post, do whatever you do):
* If anyone can find me a copy of A Kiss Could Be Deadly’s demo “The Pink Noise Sessions” that doesn’t involve getting scammed by skeezy music sites in former soviet republics, or something equally unpalatable (it might be available on iTunes as AAC… but that will sound like crap once converted to MP3 and involve dealing with iTunes) I will love them forever.
While most of America was staring at burly men charging at each other and ads for things they can no longer afford, the rest of the world was being interesting yesterday:
* Iceland Elected (imagine the Super Mario coin sound with each word when you read this) a(n?) Apparently Qualified, Gay, Green, Leftist, Social-Democrat Woman as prime minister of their interim government while they restructure after their recent financial crisis. Good job Iceland, Congratulations Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.
* Someone in The West noticed that China is imploding MUCH faster than Chinese officials claim (via BoingBoing). Surprise everyone! Or not. This should at least slow the paranoid ramblings about China getting hegemonic aspirations in the near future, they’ll be busy dealing with their own internal unrest. Couple this with the Satyam scandal news of late; all the favorite threats to America’s ridiculous (but comfortable for a substantial fraction of Americans) international dominance are going to be defeated by their own incompetence. I’m not sure how that makes me feel.