ever the optimist…

“I want to pretend, I want to pretend
The shape of the past could walk in the present tense
I’m shaking my head, you’ve certainly said
I don’t like you much now”

I don’t know if I’ve stated my love for Australia’s Modular Recordings enough here. They are by far my favourite indie label these days as they consistently put out quality releases and have brought some brilliant tunes from down under giving some great artists a chance to shine. From the Presets to Ladyhawke to Cut Copy to Van She, it doesn’t stop. Of all the bands on the label that have stolen my heart on countless occasions, none do it quite so effectively or with such stealth as New Young Pony Club.

Their 2007 debut Fantastic Playroom was pure new wave heaven. It speaks to how great and solid a record is when you can easily play it two years later and still feel the impact you did when you first listened from track one to the end. That kind of replay value holds true here. At long last, I’m happy to say the band is back!  There is a new single afoot! It’s called Lost A Girl and it retains the band’s relentless charm while making things a tad but darker.

Less pep, less immediate than The Bomb or Ice Cream but the band is better for it.  Tahita is still the star of the show here with her simple lyrics delivered with such panache, you’re sucked in instantaneously. NYPC , on the debut blended perfect pop moments with killer grooves showcasing some honest to goodness musical chops. That is still evident here in case you were at all concerned. Prepare to fall in love with the Pony Club all over again.

Just remember to pick up the new record The Optimist when it’s released in March unless of course you live in the US where you get to wait…


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“Lost A Girl” by New Young Pony Club from the forthcoming Modular release, “The Optimist”

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there’s always more with autoKratz…

Some bands make it seem too easy.  autoKratz are one of those bands.  The London duo has been making waves and making friends in the electronic/dance circuit in the last couple of years which has resulted in a deal with the Kitsune label and a major buzz. One listen to a song like Always More and it’s really not hard to see why. Minimal electronic dance pop at its finest. Everything is clean, everything is crystal. A tried and true dance progression and the lead…the lead…the not-quite dissonant lead. I just need to say how much I love the lead. For me, it makes the song. Add in the smooth vocals by singer/guitarist David Cox and you’ve got yourself a brilliant dance-pop track.

Their debut record Animal is out 3 March here in the States. Let’s hope they come out here for some shows because rumour has it, the duo absolutely kill it live.

autoKratz on MySpace
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“Always More” by autoKratz, from the forthcoming Kitsune release, “Animal”

something is most definitely NOT rotten in denmark…

“You’re undercover
My secret lover
You’re what I need
My bullet’s in the gun”

With everyone having 80s fever these days, you knew it was only a matter of time before we would start hearing the return of the 80s urban sound to the fold. What wasn’t expected was that it would come from a certain trio from Denmark of all places? With a sound that brings to mind the blue-eyed soul of Scritti Politti and an ultra-slick video replete with beautiful video that would make George Michael stand and applaud, May I bring you Private!

My Secret Lover was originally released in 2007 through the Swedish label, Labrador and was given heaps of praise throughout Scandinavia. The band was also being championed by esteemed blogger, Arjan Writes for what seemed like forever. It seemed the band either couldn’t get the proper backing or the greater public simply wasn’t ready for this Danish band but luckily it appears they’ve gotten a new lease on life. The band is ready to give the second chance this time with the help of Relentless/Virgin and hopefully My Secret Lover will find the audience it truly deserves.

It’s a hard song not to fall heads over heels for.  Perfect for clubs where you sit at booths to ogle and be ogled at. It’s pretty much the kind of song that Green Gartside of Scritti Politti would have sounded great singing himself with a kick in the pants and an even slicker sound backing him. These guys are good…

Private on MySpace
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“My Secret Lover” by Private.

on a lazy sunday, look into the clouds…

Just a lazy, rainy Sunday here in Brooklyn… While I’m bored, I figured I’d try to brighten the day a little  bit for myself and share it with you. Here’s a recent single from The Sound Of Arrows called Into The Clouds.  Just further proof that no one uses the arpeggiator quite like the Swedes. Enjoy…

the kinder, gentler kelis…

“Before you,
My whole life was acapella!
Now a symphony’s
The only song to sing
Before you,
My whole life was acapella!
Now a symphony’s
The only song to sing”

 

When we last saw Kelis, she was involved in a highly publicised divorce from her husband, the influential New York hip-hop icon, Nas. Two middling and transparent attempts to bother the pop charts in her native US and we find our heroine come to her senses and return to the margins where she seemed to draw his musical strength from and in turn present her best work. Her best work being found on her first two records, 1999’s Kaleidoscope and 2001’s Wanderland.

2010 will bring with it the arrival of a revived Kelis. A new label (Will.I.Am Music Group/Geffen), a new lease on the single life and now a new single. A very pretty and thumping single entitled Acapella. The song, produced by techno DJ/producer extraordinaire David Guetta, finds Kelis extolling the virtues that motherhood has brought to her life. Behind the pulsating drums and the minimalist synths, Kelis sings with such joy and contentment in a way I don’t think I’ve ever heard from her before.

It’s quite possible neither this single nor anything else off her forthcoming record will reach the charts quite like Milkshake or Bossy did but it’s good to see an artist back where she belongs and doing her thing. Welcome back, Ms. Rogers.

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“Acapella” by Kelis. Taken from the forthcoming Will.I.Am Music/Geffen release

omg! omd’s back…

With all the brilliance of the new electronic pop bands coming to the fore and the second wind we’ve seen this year by the likes of Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys, the time is right for another giant to return to the fold. Yes, friends, let’s rejoice for the band known as Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark is back! I don’t think it’s necessary to go through the band’s voluminous CV. You know the songs, you know the hits. Electricity. Enola Gay. Tesla Girls. If You Leave. The list goes on and on and on. The band had a run like very few of their contemporaries did in the eighties and even after the band splintered towards the end of the decade with singer/bassist Andy McCluskey carrying the torch for a few more records and adding a few more hits to the OMD canon before ending it for good.

Here we are thirteen years from the last release, 1996’s Universal, to discover the news of a new record The History of Modern will soon be upon us in the new year.  With this news comes a bit of a tease for fans ol and hopefully new. It’s a demo of what may very well be the new single called Sister Marie Says. Upon the first couple of listens, the song begins with a choral sample before opening wide into yummy electro-pop. Very reminiscent of OMD circa Sugar Tax/Liberator. Welcome back Andy and Paul!

 

 

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“Sister Marie Says” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, taken from the forthcoming release, “The History Of Modern”

i’m obsessed with the mess that’s america…

“Hollywood infected your brain
You wanna kiss it in the rain
Oh oh, I’ve been living in a movie scene
Thinking American dreams
Oh oh, I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America
I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America”

I’d say it’s becoming quite evident that Marina Diamandis aka Marina & The Diamonds is quickly proving that she is not the woman to take lightly. If her first official single taken from her forthcoming debut record The Family Jewels, Mowgli’s Road displayed her penchant for whimsy, the followup Hollywood shows her cojones pretty boldly. She’s got something to say, not afraid to say it and this time the good ol’ US of A is in her crosshairs.

Now I’m very aware that dissing the States is a well-worn path to generating applause in the rest of the world, scorn Stateside all the while ensuring plenty of publicity throughout. There will also be many haters, armchair patriots and defenders of Old Glory who will chastise the concept of a silly pop artist, a pop artist who isn’t American no less, who has the audacity to drag America and everything she stands for through the mud. To those people, I say, give it a rest before you even start. Is Marina being an attention-whore ensuring she is on the mouths of the music buying public in America and the UK a month before the album drops? Perhaps… Is it a move doomed to fail? Possibly? Is it gutsy above all else? Heck yes! Is the song any good? Without question.

Hollywood takes our disposition to idolise our pop culture heroes and throws it back in our faces with the help of a very funny video. The video, as camp as it may be, delivers the point quite clearly. This is what good pop music does. A lesson bands like the Bravery could learn is that pop music when done right not only has the ability to whip the listener into an emotional frenzy but also gives the listener a purpose. It makes us think. About love. About ourselves. How we feel at this present moment. About the world around us and our place in it. This is the first pop song in a while by a new artist who had the gumption to buck the trend and not be satisfied with a simple pop hook or two to get the word out in hopes of making her the nest pop icon. This isn’t Lady Gaga. Marina’s brand of pop is something more sinister, more genuine. If the USA can’t handle it, we’re in worse shape than we ever imagined.

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“Hollywood” by Marina & The Diamonds, taken from the forthcoming 678/Atlantic release, “The Family Jewels”