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Art Pop Experimental Indie Rock Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (Covers): The Flaming Lips – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

Day 3. The Flaming Lips cover of Kylie Minogue’s Dance Pop mega-hit is about as different to the original track as possible. They turn the polished Pop into cinematic Psychedelia. String synths & unusual slow building percussion bring to mind the sound of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western soundtracks while Wayne Coynes gentle strumming & falsetto vocals anchor the track firmly in The Flaming Lips particular brand of Psychedelic Pop/Rock.

I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy your loving is all I think about
I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy it’s more than I dare to think about

I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy your loving is all I think about
I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy it’s more than I dare to think about

Every night, every day
Just to be there in your arms

Won’t you stay
Won’t you lay
Stay forever and ever
And ever and ever

I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy your loving is all I think about
I just can’t get you out of my head
Boy it’s more than I dare to think about

There’s a dark secret in me
Don’t leave me locked in your heart

Set me free
Feel the need in me
Set me free
Stay forever and ever
And ever and ever

I just can’t get you out of my head
I just can’t get you out of my head
I just can’t get you out of my head

Fancy some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Covers) Spotify playlist.

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Art Pop Experimental Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (The Chain): The Art Of Noise – Close (To The Edit)

Day 39. Sticking with Buffalo Gals & Video Killed The Radio Star composer Trevor Horn for todays entry. The Art Of Noise were/are an Avant Garde/Synth Pop/Sampled Sound Collage group formed in the early ’80’s. Named after a book on Italian Futurism, their Spotify artist bio describes them as “futurists in the sense that they were interested in the future, in making the future a better place, in the technology of the future, in turning up in the future, in sounding like they belonged in the future.”

Close (To The Edit) is a chaotic sound collage of funky, synthetic breakbeats. It’s video depicts the band & a young girl destroying a Piano in an industrial looking location. This says more about the track & its intent than words ever could.

Hey! Yeah!

Dum! Dum!

Tra la la

Clo-clo-clo-close
To to to to the edge
To to to to the edge

To be in England
In the summertime
With my love
Close to the edge

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Art Pop Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (The Chain): The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star

Day 38. I’d like to think that some of you will have predicted todays Song of the Day. Malcolm McLaren’s Buffalo Gals was composed & produced by Trevor Horn, who’s probably better known as the main musical talent from The Buggles, the excellent Pop band behind Video Killed The Radio Star.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but Video Killed The Radio Star is a slice of absolutely perfect Synth Pop. Quirky, upbeat & sugar sweet, it pulls off the almost impossible task of appealing to weirdos & the general public alike. Released in 1979 to a decent critical & commercial response (UK number 1), Video Killed The Radio Star truly made history two years later when, on 1st August 1981, it’s excellent promo video became the first to ever be played on the brand new MTV.

I heard you on the wireless back in fifty two
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you
If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through
Oh, a, oh

They took the credit for your second symphony
Rewritten by machine on new technology
And now I understand the problems you can see

Oh, a, oh
I met your children
Oh a oh
What did you tell them?

Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
Pictures came and broke your heart
Oh, a, a, a, oh

And now we meet in an abandoned studio (ohh)
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago
And you remember the jingles used to go (ahh)

Oh, a, oh
You were the first one
Oh, a, oh
You were the last one

Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
In my mind and in my car
We can’t rewind we’ve gone too far
Oh, a, a, a, oh
Oh, a, a, a, oh

Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
In my mind and in my car
We can’t rewind we’ve gone too far
Pictures came and broke your heart
Put the blame on VCR

You are a radio star
You are a radio star

Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star

Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
(You are a radio star) video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
(You are a radio star) video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify Playlist.

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Indie Rock New Wave Post Punk Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (The Chain): The Cure – Pictures Of You

Day 32. The link in the chain today is photography. Manic Street Preachers’ Kevin Carter is about the titular photographer & Pictures Of You by The Cure is inspired by the remains of photographs which were damaged in a housefire.

Pictures Of You is smouldering, emotional Indie Pop which relies as much on fantastic guitar work as it does on almost euphoric synth pads. Slow burning vocal melodies & rocksteady bass lines anchor this Indie gem beautifully. Also a great video which takes you right back to ’89.

I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they’re real 
I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures 
Are all I can feel

Remembering you standing quiet in the rain 
As I ran to your heart to be near 
And we kissed as the sky fell in
Holding you close 
How I always held close in your fear
Remembering you running soft through the night 
You were bigger and brighter and wider than snow
And screamed at the make-believe 
Screamed at the sky
And you finally found all your courage 
To let it all go

Remembering you fallen into my arms 
Crying for the death of your heart 
You were stone white
So delicate 
Lost in the cold 
You were always so lost in the dark
Remembering you how you used to be 
Slow drowned 
You were angels
So much more than everything 
Hold for the last time then slip away quietly 
Open my eyes 
But I never see anything

If only I’d thought of the right words 
I could have held on to your heart 
If only I’d thought of the right words
I wouldn’t be breaking apart 
All my pictures of you

Looking so long at these pictures of you 
But I never hold on to your heart 
Looking so long for the words to be true
But always just breaking apart
My pictures of you

There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more 
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world 
That I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
All my pictures of you

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Indie Rock Synth Pop

Superlove – Jarvis Put The Record On

Maltese originating, Berlin based Synth-Indie band Superlove are about to release a beautiful limited edition single with boutique cassette label Safe Suburban Home.

The single, Jarvis Put The Record On is fuzzy, synthetic, energetic Pop. Masterfully programmed drum machine patterns (we know from the b-side that frontman Daniel Borg owns a 909, so it’s a safe assumption that he’s using it here) underpins beautifully textured synth bass parts & spectral, swirling pads. The song was built around parts which were written on a cheap Casio keyboard which sadly didn’t survive the session.

The song was inspired by a chance encounter with Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker & is inspired by the lack of new music from the esteemed Britpop singer. Jarvis Put The Record On was written “in the vague hope that one day he will hear it and crack out another album,” recalls Borg. Cocker has since released new music under his Jarv Is moniker. “Maybe we managed to convince him, who knows?” says Borgs bandmate, Alexandra Aquilina.

B-side Me & My 909 is a more subdued affair. Sombre guitar lines, a murky, synthy soundscape & beautifully simple drum machine pattern. In tribute to his 909, Borg says he wanted to build the song around “the most basic beat to enhance the beauty of this machine.” The downtempo rhythm, noisy soundscape & male/female vocal harmonies almost take it into Shoegaze territory.

Jarvis Put The Record On is available on limited Cassette through Safe Suburban Home on 7th August.The Cassette is available to pre-order here. The songs can be pre-saved to Spotify here.

Check out the excellent video for Jarvis Put The Record On.

Categories
Indie Rock Song of the Day Synth Pop

Song of the Day (The Chain): Stereolab – Miss Modular

Day 10. I’m kind of hoping that you’re scratching your heads & wondering what the link between Pull The Wires From The Wall by The Delgados & Miss Modular by Stereolab is. This one is a bit more obscure than the previous links.

Basically, throughout his career as a radio DJ, John Peel compiled an annual best of the year list which he called his Festive Fifty. These lists have their own cult following online & fans back in the day would tape Festive Fifty rundowns straight from the radio, the tapes becoming treasured cultural artefacts in a manner it’s difficult to explain here in 2020.

Pull The Wires From The Wall by The Delgados was number 27 in John Peels 1997 Festive Fifty. One space higher, at number 26, was Miss Modular by Stereolab. So from dreamy, quirky Alternative Rock we go to the sunny Synth Pop melodies of Stereolab’s Miss Modular.

Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil.
Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil,

Donne l’idee do jeu et do mystere,
Un spectacle intime donne l’idee do jeu et de l’humour,
Spectacle qui rime, qui suscite dans les yeux un eclair,
Une decouverte, une idee qui peut jouer des tours,
Une muse, certes, donne l’idee do jeu et do mystere,
Un spectacle intime.

Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil.
Sur la boite cartonnee un trompe-l’oeil
Avoue volontiers qu’il est trompe-l’oeil.

Miss Modular

On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil.
On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil,Gives the idea of the game and the mystery,
An intimate spectacle gives the idea of the game and the humor,
Spectacle that rhymes, that arouses on the eyes a flash,
A discovery, an idea that can play tricks,
A muse, admittedly, gives the idea of the game and the mystery,
An intimate spectacle.On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil.
On the cased box a trompe l’oeil
Confesses willingly that it is trompe l’oeil.

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Indie Rock Synth Pop

The Flaming Lips – My Religion Is You

Hot on the heels of their last single, May’s Flowers Of Neptune 6, those fabulous freaks The Flaming Lips drop another new single from their forthcoming album American Head, due out on 11th September.

My Religion Is You pulls off a tried, tested & extremely effective trick with the mournful, acoustic folk intro which soon morphs into widescreen psychedelic Pop. The guitars all but disappear, synthetic bass & sampled strings laying the groundwork for Wayne Coyne’s acid-frazzled falsetto. Some delightfully off-kilter lead guitars melodies return for the songs instrumental bridge.

Like Flowers Of Neptune 6, My Religion Is You is accompanied by a fiery video. Coyne sings into the camera in front of a wall of fire, holding a bunch of oversized flowers. A Buddhist monk carries a crucifix with a floral wreath attached to it. Like the recent Bright Eyes single I reviewed a couple of days ago, The Flaming Lips seem to be in a pessimistically apocalyptic mood right now. Perhaps there’s something in the air.

Yeah Buddha’s cool
And you’re no fool
To believe anything
You need
To believe in
If Hari Krishna
Maybe it’s the
Thing for you

Hey that’s cool
I don’t need no religion
You’re all I need
You’re the thing I believe in

Nothing else is true
My religion is you
My religion is you
My religion is you

If being a Christian
Is your thing then
Own it friend
Don’t phone it in

I don’t need no religion
You’re all I need
You’re the thing I believe in

Nothing else is true
My religion is you
My religion is you
My religion is you

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Rock Synth Pop

David Bowie – Is It Any Wonder?

Second David Bowie post in two days (& third this week). Is It Any Wonder? is a six-track EP consisting of unreleased or rare tracks recorded in & around 1997.

To kick things off, there’s the version of The Man Who Sold The World from the ChangesNowBowie radio show (also released as a new album this year). This is a stripped back, downtempo, acoustic version of the song, reminiscent of the much lauded Nirvana cover. A conscious decision, I’m sure, & a moving tribute to the late Kurt Cobain.

The second track is a moving, moribund treatment of the Tin Machine song, I Can’t Read. This version was recorded during the mixing of Bowie’s ’97 album, Earthling (which I wrote about yesterday) & is said to have been Bowies preferred version of the song. Check out the video (above) for some great, artistic visuals. I particularly like the faces projected onto the white masks.

Stay 97 is an update of the track from 1976 album Station To Station. The idea was to bring older material in line, sonically, with the newer stuff from Earthling. This is achieved with motorik rhythms & crunchy, digitized guitar riffs.

Baby Universal 97 is a rerecording of another Tin Machine track. Originally intended as the penultimate track on Earthling, Bowie was aid to have being extremely fond of the track & didn’t think enough people had heard it before. This version is built around hard drum machine beats, thrashing guitars & a melodic soundscape of synth & vocals. I can easily imagine it sitting comfortably on Earthling.

Nuts is minimal, Junglist, Drum & Bass. Recorded in the Earthling sessions, Nuts was also originally slated for inclusion but was eventually left off the album. It’s incredibly atmospheric. A friend of mine says it reminds him of a lot of Eric Serras film soundtrack work, paticularly The Fifth Element & Goldeneye. I agree, but it also reminds me of the music for the excellent original PlayStation game, G-Police or Wipeout.

The final track is another version of The Man Who Sold The World. The ‘Eno’ Live Mix, 2020 remaster. This Brian Eno produced version transforms the song into a downtempo, Dub-influenced Trip Hop tune. This version was recorded in 1995 & released as a single alongside Strangers When We Meet. Heavy dubby basslines, delayed percussion & echoey sonar blips combine to create a truly contemporary (for 1995) sonic experience.

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Music Overlooked Classics Rock Synth Pop

Overlooked Classics: David Bowie – Earthling

David Bowie’s 1997 album Earthling was the first new Bowie record I was aware of as a teenager. I already knew songs like Space Oddity & Ashes To Ashes, & even liked what I knew, but Earthling was essentially my generation’s Bowie album.

Bowie, finger ever on the pulse of the zeitgeist, was inspired by emergent genres like Drum & Bass, IDM & Breakbeat. Earthling was written & produced with these influences at the fore. Everything could have gone so horribly wrong. Many other classic artists who embrace genres of younger generations fail miserably (in my opinion), take Neil Youngs synthetic experiments in the ’80’s for example.

Luckily, Bowie was able to understand & appreciate what it was about these genres that made them special & unique. Instead of bending the technology & techniques used to create Drum & Bass to match his songwriting, he bent his songwriting to match the technology.

Album opener & lead single, Little Wonder, is a great example of this. A thumping, Junglist, Drum & Bass beat underpins trademark. His incredible vocal melodies floating above the hard, Junglist beats. In line with a key influence at for Bowie at the time, The Prodigy, Little Wonder’s skittering breakbeat manglement gives way to headbanging, anthemic hard rock sections.

Elsewhere, other influences come to the fore. Looking For Satellites is heavy downtempo breakbeats, somewhere between Hip Hop & Trip Hop (Meat Beat Manifesto?), but with rhythmic vocal melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on a Talking Heads record.

Prodigy vibes abound on Battle For Britain (The Letter). Crunchy, digitally harsh guitar chords juxtaposed against similar Junglist rhythms to Little Wonder. Bowies trademark melodic melancholia & a space rock glueing the whole thing together. Free jazz piano segments notwithstanding.

Seven Years In Tibet brings us more downtempo drum machine shenanigans, with heavy, metallic guitar riffing. This is more in Nine Inch Nails’ sonic territory than Prodigy though.

Dead Man Walking sees modem noise distorted guitars over thumping four-to-the-floor beats. Techno synth arpeggios & harmonic vocal loops give this a distinctly ’90’s vibe to it. Perhaps reminds me a little of Björk’s Hyper-Ballad. I could easily imagine a successful mix of the two songs in the hands of a competent DJ.

Telling Lies sees the return of the Drum & Bass rhythms. Lowkey baritone Bowie vocals & incoherent moaning help to build an oppressive sonic atmosphere.

The Last Thing You Should Do is upbeat, cut-&-Paste breakbeat with melancholic, subdued verses & explosive, distorted choruses. Like The Chemical Brothers with a more experimental sensibility. Grunge dynamics feel strangely at home here.

I’m Afraid Of Americans is more downtempo, industrial influenced darkness. Wears it’s Nine Inch Nails influence proudly on its sleeve. Doubly so on the various Nine Inch Nails Remixes which were also made, Trent Reznor’s unique production style bringing out Bowie’s darkest artistic impulses. You’ve got to hand it to Reznor. Not only did he do a great job of this, but he did it from the position of being completely starstruck & in awe of Bowie.

Finale, Law (Earthlings On Fire) is another dive into the sonic textures of Techno. Four-to-the-floor drums, bubbling, sidechained bass lines & stabs of distorted noise. Vocals mimic the rhythms brilliantly, acting as just another instrument in the soundscape.

I forgot how much I loved this album & I’m glad I was reminded of it by a post on Facebook earlier this week. One of Bowies darkest, & most sonically adventurous, albums, Earthling still sounds incredibly contemporary today, 23 years after its release.

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Categories
Music Post Punk Synth Pop

Billy Nomates – No

I may not have verbalised it thus far, but the primary purpose & concern of Scruffy Theory is discovery and rediscovery. It’s about discovering new music, literature & art then attempting to share & spread my enthusiasm for those things as far & wide as possible. There may be some politics & respectful marking of certain anniversaries & holidays, but they’re not the primary focus.

So there are various ways that one can pick up new leads & ideas for new pathways to follow in the cause of discovery. This morning, for example, I was watching an interview on YouTube with Jason Williamson, vocalist with Sleaford Mods. One question he was asked was what new music was he currently enjoying. He answered with new English artist, Billy Nomates. He described Billy Nomates as like Sleaford Mods (but nost), Post-Punk, like early Madonna & ’80’s soul combined.

Rhythmically, No by Billy Nomates is quite similar to Sleaford Mods, with that driving beat & solid bass. Vocally there is an element of speak singing in the verses but the choruses definitely live up to Jason’s early Madonna comparison. It’s solid Post-Punk/Pop crossover music which will hopefully make an impact on the mainstream. & if it doesn’t, I’m sure the Indie scene will give Billy Nomates the love & respect they deserve.

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