Friday, 12 March 2010

Electro Classic Jukebox: Real Life.

Like a brief and sadly short-lived flare, Melbourne, Australia's Real Life did their damnedest to stake out a claim for awesome Australian synth-pop in the heady year of 1983. Unfortunately, their foray didn't work out so well - only two singles sprung from their debut album Heartland. But in the land of '80s synthesizer music, sometimes it only took a singular stab at genius to make a piece of art stick into the heart of the public's subconsciousness. Thus I introduce unto you their singular master track, "Send Me An Angel".

Ladies and gentlemen; if you haven't heard this track before, then please close your eyes and let this lovely song wash over you. If you have (and I'm pretty sure you have), then listen to it afresh. It's a great fucking song; with a whistling synth, a reedy voice, and a catchy-as-hell chorus.

The Beauty And The Beast - style video doesn't hurt things, either. You gotta love the mist-smothered forests, of which I'm positive Melbourne is swarming with! Here's Real Life with their career-defining single, "Send Me An Angel".

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Even Bears Love Gary Numan.

When will Howard ever learn that no one wants to hear his jazz/funk fusion tapes? Especially on a road-trip? Hell, even the bear in the back of the truck doesn't like it. Luckily for everybody involved, Vince didn't forget to bring his massive collection of Gary Numan tapes. Everybody likes Gary Numan. Even creatures of the ursine persuasion! Yay, Gary Numan! Here's Mighty Boosh, with "Mix Tapes".

Get Happy, Find Bliss.

What, exactly, is happiness anyway? For that matter, what is bliss? Are they genuine emotions, or, in a cold, grey and uncaring urban nightmare are they merely commodities that can be created, bought and sold? If the latter were the case, what would be the price?

Mark Osborne's gorgeous 1999 stop-motion short film More tackles this subject with a magical grace that simply has to be seen to be believed. Nominated for an Academy Award for short animated film (and taking the honors in Sundance, South by Southwest, and ResFest), this fascinating short examines the cost to one's soul that trying to create a genuine emotion can exact.

Equally cool is that Osborne chose a track off of New Order's 1985 album Low-Life for the dialogue-free film - the glorious and understated instrumental, "Elegia". My goodness; it really appears they were made for each other. It ... works, in a thoroughly surprising and inspiring way.

But don't take my word for it! Watch it yourself, and get lost in the magical world of ... More.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Gorillaz - "Plastic Beach" LP Released Today!

Today, the 9th of March (unless you're lucky enough to live in Europe - in which case it was yesterday), Gorillaz released their third (and perhaps final) album, Plastic Beach. A cartoon band created by Damon Albarn (of the late, great Blur) and realized by Jamie Hewlett (who was responsible for the great comic series Tank Girl), Gorillaz consists of part-time Satanist Murdoc Niccals, the pint-sized and impossibly skinny 2D, half-robotic assassin Noodle, and the hulking behemoth Russell Hobbs. Their self-titled debut was released in 2001, featuring the classic tracks "Clint Eastwood" (featuring Del tha Funkee Homosapien - which in itself was rather ideal) and "19-2000" (with Miho Hatori and Tina Weymouth). 2005 brought us the more fully-realized Demon Days, with the most awesome electro-disco single "Dare" and their pairing with Neneh Cherry, "Kids With Guns". And now, we are blessed with the singularly epic sprawling masterpiece that I'm talking about right now at this very moment.

Set on the titular piece of real estate, somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean, this rollicking piece of work finds itself reveling on chunks of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that have somehow manifested themselves into an island where the Gorillaz have set up their home. And, boy, I've got to tell you - they have some great guests. Here on Plastic Beach we have musical compositions (ranging from dub, raggae, hip-hop, techno, and - yes - electronica) with such luminaries as Snoop Dogg, Bobby Womack, Mick Jones and Paul Simonen from The Clash, Mark E. Smith, Lou Reed (!), Mos Def, and De La Soul. Eclectic? For sure! And that's one thing (I've listened to it once all the way through - I'll write more about it when I've had more listens under my belt) that makes it so special - you can't pin it down. Based on what I've heard, I heartedly recommend it to anybody. Pardon my French, but it's fucking magical.

Now, I can't embed the video for their first single, "Stylo", but I'll put down the link for you. Let's say the video is set in the desert after some kind of shoot-out. It's a car chase! Guns blazing! A fat cop with donuts! Bruce Willis chasing them with a humongous gun! Noodle the cyborg with a hole in its head! It freaking rocks. Featuring Mos Def and the super soulful crooning of Bobby Womack, it's quite literally one for the ages.

Enjoy responsibly, kids. Stay tuned to this here site for future discussions of Plastic Beach, as well as another essay on The Human League's 1979 masterpiece Reproduction, and a treatise on the work of Pet Shop Boys.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Electro Classic Jukebox: Blancmange.

Released as a single in 1982 off their first album Happy Families, Blancmange's "Living On The Ceiling" is, in my opinion, a perfect example of a surprise hit. Formed in the late '70s in the London borough of Harrow (to the far, far west of my girlfriend's northwest London flat in West Hampstead), Blancmange was one of the many synth-pop bands who missed the "wave," so to speak, and rather petered out after just a couple of albums (they released two others: 1984's Mange Tout, and Believe You Me from 1985). But one has to admit that "Living On The Ceiling" is one hell of a strong single. It's catchy and fun, and the lyrics are thoughtful and intelligent. It's also in possession of a rather goofy sensibility, propelled by Neil Arthur's deep and forceful voice.

Fun trivia item: Israel's Channel One program used the main theme of "Living On The Ceiling" as the introduction for their Arabic news program. Listen to the song - there's definitely an Arabic sound in the synths!

Here is Blancmange performing "Living On The Ceiling" on the UK pop music show, The Tube in 1982. Enjoy, dear readers! Happy March - and how about that hockey game? Was that awesome, or what?