Category Archives: +++ synthpop

SPC ECO

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Been meaning to write about SPC ECO forever. I was recently sent a complimentary copy of their new record The Art of Pop, from their label. I have loved SPC ECO forever, man!

SPC ECO is Dean Garcia from the shoegaze/noise/electronic band Curve, plus his daughter Rose Berlin, as the lead singer/main vocalist.

Fantastic music. Hooky, dreamy, noisy… everything you’d expect from the Curve guy… and his daughter is one hell of a singer…. it’s like Curve, but nowhere near. It’s shoegazey, but kind of new wave, too…. dreampop-ish. Whatever. Just enjoy it.

Here’s a Spotify embed of their latest record The Art of Pop (2014). Hopefully it embeds properly… if not, I’ll keep updating the post, til it does.

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Frou Frou

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Don’t forget about this band, just because the whole fucking world is obsessed with folk/acoustic indie stuff, and lots of crowd-sung “oh, oh, oh, woo-woo-woo” chants).

Just because you heard “Let Go” a million fucking times over the last 9 years doesn’t mean you should discount their perfect (and only) full-length record.

Frou Frou is Guy Sigsworth and the legendary Imogen Heap (who was kicked off her label in 1998 due to low sales… man, I bet those executives are kicking themselves for such a stupid decision).

This record has been one of my all-time favorite albums of all-time. A true desert-island disc. Put headphones on and prepare for one gorgeous, harmonically-rich, melodically fascinating, and electronically stimulating journey.

Don’t sleep on their album “Details” because truly, it’s all about the details, with these songs.

I love Imogen Heap with every ounce of my soul and Guy Sigsworth is just a genius… may she and he continue to have incredible success, and possibly release new Frou Frou material (there is talk of it).

Here’s the “Details” Spotify playlist. LISTEN TO IT IN ITS ENTIRETY!

 

Haim

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You might have heard Haim (pronouned “hime”) on a good college radio station, or you might have heard their name here and there. They are all sisters, and been writing songs since they were kids (starting to write their own music at 14, 17, and 20, respectively). Now, all in their early-to-mid-20s.. they’re finally getting out there, and man.. is their music fucking FRESH. It’s just fresh… so fresh-sounding, lovely, fun, and meaningful. All I have to say is… music doesn’t get much better than this.

They’ve been described as the lovechild of Fleetwood Mac and Destiny’s Child/90s R&B, and honestly, that’s a pretty damn good description. Let the music speak for itself, as it always should:

You can’t ever fucking tell Chris Caulder that “new music sucks.” I’ll just laugh in your fucking face until I piss my pants.

Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer

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I think this is another one of those “I wrote about them here, but WordPress ate it” entries…. if that’s the case, then here goes again…

If I can think of one band who just doesn’t get enough love at all, it would be Philadelphia-based Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer. When I first heard them, shortly after I moved to PA in 2004, I immediately fell in love with their sound and songs. I have compared them to a mix of Blondie, Metric, Green Day, and the best of the best, of pop music. The songs just have this fire… this fun, heartfelt fire that so very few bands have.

Eight years ago, I interviewed Rach, the singer/keyboardist for a website I used to run called http://www.femalevocals.com, which I never really did anything with, because it was simply too much work. Rach was really cool, fun and funny, in the interview. I asked her serious questions about her songwriting and she would basically explain her process, goofily…. it made me laugh while reading the email. I wish I still had the interview. If I could find it again, I will, and I will post it here in an “interviews” section at Underrated Music.

Without further ado…. yummy tunes:

 

Of note: Anthony Green (now of Circa Survive) used to be in this band. He’s done vocals on their “Popsicle” EP, and Rach did vocals on a recent Circa Survive recording.

No one knows if there will be more music by the band… Rach and Vince (guitars/vocals) got married a while back. I’d love to hear some new tunes, though. Last album was 2007’s “Schematics.”

 

Chaos Chaos

The band formerly known as “Smoosh.” I don’t want to babble much about this band… here are the facts:

1. They’re pretty and young (and I believe, Swedish-born, which allows them to be placed in the “Scandinavian Pop” category, yay!)

2. They’ve been writing every single riff, lyric and melody in their songs since they started a decade ago (as pre-teens).

3. The music’s always been fucking GOOD.

Here’s their full KEXP live performance from months back (earphone people — watch out just before 13 seconds in…. you will go deaf with an accidental blast of loud as they tested their keyboard)….

Lykke Li

 

I’ve spent all morning listening to Swedish singer/songwriter Lykke Li’s “Wounded Rhymes” and “Youth Novels.” You may remember Lykke Li’s from 2011’s underground smash “Get Some“, where she sings the hook “I’m your prostitute…. you gonna get some…”
Even though the song isn’t really about sex (it’s about how the media manipulates musical artists, and vice-versa), it sure does have an arousing/sexual sound, and the lyrics contribute to the sexy, primal beat.

Lykke’s music spans a TON of styles and genres, and that’s one of the reasons I love her music so much. It’s tribal, primal, electronic, 80s, new wave, retro, now/then… ya know. It’s all over the place, while constantly remaining hooky. It’s the magic of Scandinavians and their gift of writing perfect pop music.

Here’s “Get Some” (from 2011’s Wounded Rhymes), and “Little Bit” (from 2008’s Youth Novels). The songs vary greatly in sound, but it’s all Lykke, and all awesome.

 

Magnetic Fields / Stephin Merritt

I saw the Magnetic Fields for the first time last night, at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. And man, it was a holy experience. Ever see a show where, after the applause dies down after each song, you just let out a sigh, in complete bliss? Yeah, there aren’t too many shows like that… but when they happen… you know you’re in the presence of something great, and there’s no other place you’d rather be, then there, right then.

That’s how it was for me last night.

So let me tell you a little about the music of Magnetic Fields…. it’s quirky, it’s poppy, it’s quite strange at times… it’s simple, yet complex… it’s a little country, it’s a little folky, it’s a little new wave, it’s a little Broadway/show-tunes-ish…. it’s a little depressing… it’s a little uplifting… get the point? It’s a little of EVERYTHING GREAT about pop music.

To most fans of indie/underground music, Stephin Merritt (the main songwriter and singer in the band) is a god. There are REALLY good songwriters, and GREAT musical geniuses… and then there’s Stephin Merritt. He’s the cream of the crop, that’s how fuckin’ good this guy is.

Magnetic Fields songs are deceptively simple. I-IV-V pop chord changes, the dominant-tonic relationship (folk/country chord progressions), easy chord shapes in easy keys. Oh but there’s a lot more hiding underneath this simplicity…. I’ve noticed this in all the years I’ve been listening to the Magnetic Fields religiously…. but then as I saw the songs performed last night, and studied what each member of the band was doing… it was just blowing my mind. Such perfect songwriting, structure, arrangement…. not to mention the lyrics and vocal melodies on top of it all.

The Magnetic Fields have released many albums over the past 20 years, and Merritt is extremely prolific… as he has released many albums and EPs outside of Magnetic Fields with the side projects Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies, the 6ths, and also, he’s released a bunch of solo music, as well.

Here is a Spotify playlist of everything Magnetic Fields/Stephin Merritt-related…. it’s pretty complete (full albums and EPs, and soundtracks):

Spotify Playlist for Magnetic Fields / Stephin Merritt

And here is a Spotify playlist of the catchiest Magnetic Fields songs, if you’re a newbie.

Or, just take a listen to these YouTube videos (but chances are, when you hear these few, you’ll want much more… that’s what the Spotify playlists are for. If you don’t have Spotify yet, GET IT!!!

Check out Stephin Merritt’s main website at www.houseoftomorrow.com for all the info about Magnetic Fields and all his other works… also, definitely check out the fantastic documentary about him and Magnetic Fields called Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields (link to the official trailer). As of this writing, you can stream it on Netflix Instant Play if you’re a Netflix member!