Throughout the past summer, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland-based synth pop act Free Love, and since their formation back in 2014 under the name Happy Meals, the act which is comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of Scotland’s most acclaimed, contemporary electronic music acts; in fact, their 2015 full-length debut Apero received a Scottish Album of the Year nod. And adding to a growing profile. the duo has opened for Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TX, Moscow, and Bangalore.
With the release of “Synchronicity,” a track that may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle, the duo further cemented their reputation for crafting utopian-leaning and brainy dance pop centered around shimmering analog synths. As the duo explained in press notes, the song is breaking free from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom. The Scottish synth pop duo released two more singles, the ecstatic Giorgio Moroder and New Wave-like “Pushing Too Hard,” and the acid-house-like “July,” which brought Come With Us-era Chemical Brothers and Tweekend-era Crystal Method to mind. The duo’s forthcoming EP Luxury Hits is slated for a November 9, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single “Playing As Punks” will further cement the Scottish duo’s reputation for crafting 80s inspired synth-based New Wave — in this case, much like “Synchronicity,” taking its cues directly from early New Order and early house music as the track sonically is centered around arpeggiated synths, industrial clang-like drum programming and an soaring yet infectious hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song focuses on being here in this very brief moment with the understanding and acceptance of the fact that it won’t last.
Since their formation under the name Happy Meals in 2014 at Glasgow, Scotland’s The Green Door Studio, best known for being the birthplace of a number of local DIY bands, including renowned acts Golden Teacher and Total Leatherette, Free Love, comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of their homeland’s most acclaimed dance pop acts, as their 2015 full-length effort Apero was nominated for Scottish Album of the Year. Adding to a growing profile, the band opened for the likes of Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TX, Moscow, and Bangalore. Despite their recent change in name, the duo further cements their reputation for utopian and somewhat brainy dance pop experiments with their dance floor friendly. shimmering, 80s synth pop and New Wave-inspired single “Synchronicity.” While the track may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order’s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the song is about breaking from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom.
Shot by Harrison Reid and Omar Aborida and edited by Gary McQuiggan, the recently released video for “Synchronicity” was filmed at Carlton Studios and features friends of the band as four different “bands” with four different backdrops. But as the band’s Lewis Cook explains to The Quietus, “I wanted it to look like a Sparks video or something like that. I like videos where it’s just a band playing. But because the track is all electronic music, it’s just us with drum machines and synthesizers. So we thought it’d be cool to do this thing you used to see in the 90s where people had clearly made a track on a sampler.” As Suzi Rodden adds, “but they’re kidding on that they’re playing all these instruments in their video. Big bass guitars and full drum kits and maracas and stuff.”
Comprised of Dave Sitek, a guitarist, songwriter and producer, best known for being a member of TV on the Radio and for collaborating with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, Foals, Celebration, Little Dragon, Beady Eye, Kelis, Santigold, and others; and Daniel Ledinsky, who’s best known for releasing the viral hit “DonaldTrumpMakesMeWannaSmokeCrack,” and for collaborating with Tove Lo, Kent, CeeLo Green, Shakira and Rihanna, the Los Angeles, CA-based duo The Neverly Boys are inspired by their adopted hometown, and the duo’s debut single together “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” is actually about the broken dreams on which Hollywood is built. Though the single was written and recorded before the relatively recent reports of rampant and unchecked abuse, the single comes from the same poisoned well. As Ledinsky says in press notes “I’m guessing most people who live here in Los Angeles can relate to that feeling of total hopelessness. This place sure creates some amazingly beautiful art, but it also has a tendency to use and corrupt you. Hollywood has attracted artists to come here to pursue their dreams since the 20’s, and a lot of people end up in a very dark place chasing that dream. I love this city for all its beauty, but it has always been a very hard and violent place as well.“ And as a result, “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” while consisting of a bluesy and twangy shuffle paired with an anthemic chorus manages to feel haunted, as though imbued by bitter and lingering ghosts.
Founded by frontman, multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and DFA Records co-founder James Murphy in 2002, Brooklyn-based indie rock/electro rock/dance punk act LCD Soundsystem along with acts like The Rapture, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, Radio 4, Liars and a few others, are considered pioneers of a dance punk renaissance that saw its height at the early part of this century; but among that group LCD Soundsystem set themselves apart as one of the more commercially and critically successful acts of their era — 2005’s eponymous full-length debut, which featured their most successful single “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” was nominated by a Grammy for Best Dance Recording with the album also being nominated for a Grammy Best Electronic/Best Dance Album. With a growing national and international profile, Nike commissioned Murphy and company to write and record a workout-inspired, workout-friendly album — 45:33 — as part of the Nike+ Original Run series. The members of LCD Soundsystem followed that up with 2007’s critically acclaimed Sound of Silver, which was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album. 2010’s This Is Happening managed to be the act’s most commercially successful, as it was their first Top 10 album in the States; however, by the following year, the band announced it was breaking up and was celebrating a wildly successful run together with a series of farewell shows at Madison Square Garden and Terminal 5, with the events surrounding their final show together, chronicled in the documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits, and a live album, 2014’s The Long Goodbye, which Murphy painstakingly mastered.
After LCD Soundsystem broke up, the members of the band went on to pursue a number of creative and business pursuits — Nancy Whang released solo material and DJ’ed; Tyler Pope spent a stint in the touring band of !!!,; Gavin Russom has released solo material under the moniker Black Meteoric Star, collaborated with Viva Ruiz in The Crystal Ark and recently came out as transgender and transitioning; David Scott Stone has collaborated with Melvins, Unwound, Jello Biafra, Mike Patton, No Age, and others; Jerry Fuchs went on with stints in The Juan MacLean, !!!, Maserati and MSTRKRFT; and Murphy arguably being the busiest of the band as he not only continued his production and sound engineering work, working with Arcade Fire during the Reflector sessions, he was in 2014 commissioned by the US Open to create a special set of remixes based on the actual sounds and events of the tournament’s matches. Along with that he remixed David Bowie‘s “Love Is Lost,” for an expanded edition of the legendary artist’s The Next Day and was known to occasionally DJ, including famously DJing to close out DFA Records’ 12th Anniversary Party at Grand Prospect Hall. He also participated in Canon’s Project Imaginat10n, a film project in which the folks at Canon invited 5 different celebrities to direct short films based on pictures uploaded by photographers and other creatives around the world to a special website, with the result being his directorial debut “Little Duck,” set in Japan. And in other non-musical pursuits, with the assistance of Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman, Murphy released his own blend of espresso, and then he opened a critically applauded restaurant in Williamsburg, which he personally designed and chose the menu. And although Murphy had publicly stated that LCD Soundsystem’s breakup allowed him the time and ability to pursue an array of projects, he wasn’t able to do before, he also missed being in a band and creating music.
Interestingly, in light of those comments, towards the end of 2015, there were rumblings across the blogosphere that Murphy and several members of the band were considering a series of reunion shows for the major festival circuit — and naturally, those rumors exploded upon the release of Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” which the band released on Christmas of that year, marking a big Christmas surprise for fans, who had been clamoring for new material and/or the possibility of a reunion for the better part of 5 years. Naturally, with the release of the single, Murphy and company confirmed that a reunion tour with appearances at several major festivals, a residency to The Bowery Presents‘ newest venue, Brooklyn Steel and a new album, American Dream, which is slated for a September 1, 2017 release through Columbia Records/DFA Records.
As my colleagues mentioned, their early Brooklyn Steel sets featured material, which would appear on their new album, including the atmospheric, “Call The Police,” which features Murphy’s archly ironic lyrics and manages to sound like a mesh of the sound of This Is Happening and their incredible cover of Harry Nilsson‘s “Jump Into The Fire” and “American Dream,” a slow-burning track featuring shimmering synths but subtly nods at “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” thanks in part to Murphy’s dramatic crooning,
“tonite,” the third single off the soon-to-be-released album is arguably one of the more dance floor friendly singles they’ve released to date as it features an unrelenting and propulsive beat paired with wobbling, house music-like bass synth and twinkling keys, and Murphy’s ironic observations on the state of contemporary music, human relationships in the age of constant connectivity and his own random musings. And interestingly enough, despite the 5 years apart, the band manages to sound as though they haven’t missed a beat; in fact, it sounds as though it were the song and the album that they would have made regardless of breaking up — all while subtly nodding at Man Machine-era Kraftwerk.
Directed by Joel Kefall, the recently released video for “tonite” features a handful of members performing the song, while others look cooly detached, reading or staring into space on a spinning stage, lit by explosively bursts of concert lighting. And the entire time, the band’s frontman sings with a tape recorder strapped to him.
Comprised of Don De Vore, who has spent stints in a number of indie rock acts, including Sick Feeling, Ink and Dagger and others and Reggie Debris, the Brooklyn-based electronic duo Collapsing Scenery can trace their origins back to the summer/fall of 2013, one of a series of summers in which humanity seemed to be inching closer to the precipice of self-annhiliation. And inspired by those particularly bleak days, the De Vore and Debris put aside their guitars, the instruments they’d first learn to play music and on which they were most comfortable and most well-versed, and began assembling as much analog electronic equipment as possible — including samples, step sequencers, synths and drum machines, all plugged into a variety of effects pedals. Interestingly, De Vore’s and Debris’ music and creative process reportedly represents the world as the band wishes the world were: mischievous, polyglot, intense, committed, politically engaged, free, open and without boundaries or hierarchies.
With their initial and recording sessions being largely improvised and accompanied by Ryan Rapsys (drums), the material they wrote together expressed their rage and frustration — and while being an electronic outfit, their sound and material draws from punk rock, industrial electronica, techno, hip-hop. free jazz, disco, folk and several other things, and in way that will remind some listeners of renowned experimental electronic act Liars. Now if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you may recall that I had written about “Metaphysical Cops,” a single that reminded me of Soul Coughing’s “Super Bon Bon,” and while it’s been a while since I’ve written about the Brooklyn-based electronic duo, the band has been busy writing new material, which includes their latest single “Straight World Problems,” a propulsive and off-kilter bit of funk that manages to be both radio-friendly and dance floor-friendly despite it’s abrasiveness. While the core of the song suggests an unresolved sexual frustration and desperation, the song as the band’s Reggie Debris explains in press notes is about “the awful frequency with which new regimes and new systems mimic the worst qualities of those they replace.”
Directed by Richard Kern, the recently released video possesses a thinly veiled and unresolved sexual tension between each of the characters — are the members of the band being teased or they are enjoying suffering? Is there more than meets the eye? Hard to tell; but it’s sexy and downright weird.
Brooklyn-based indie rock act LCD Soundsystem was founded by frontman, multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and DFA Records co-founder James Murphy in 2002, and along with acts like The Rapture, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, Radio 4, Liars, and lengthy list of others are considered pioneers of a dance punk act renaissance that saw its height at the early part of this century. Interestingly enough, LCD Soundsystem may arguably be one of most critically and commercially successful acts of their era — 2005’s eponymous full-length debut, which featured their most successful single “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” was nominated by a Grammy for Best Dance Recording with the album also being nominated for Best Electronic/Best Dance Album. With a growing national and international profile, Nike commissioned the band to write and record a workout-inspired album — 45:33 — as part of Nike+ Original Run series and they followed that up with their 2007 critically acclaimed sophomore album Sound of Silver, which was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album. 2010’s This Is Happening was the band’s most commercially successful, as it was also their first Top 10 album in the States; however, by the next year, the band announced that it would be breaking up and celebrating with a series of farewell shows at Madison Square Garden and Terminal 5 — with the events of the final show chronicled in the documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits and was released as a live album, 2014’s The Long Goodbye.
After LCD Soundsystem broke up, Murphy and the members of the band went on to pursue a number of creative and business pursuits — with Murphy being the among the busiest in the band. Over the years Murphy has continued his production and sound engineering work, working with Arcade Fire during the Reflektor sessions, created a special set of remixes from the 2014 US Open, based on the actual sounds and events of matches and remixed David Bowie‘s “Love Is Lost,” for an expanded edition of the legendary artist’s The Next Day. He also occasionally DJ’d, including an incredible set to close out DFA Records’ 12th Anniversary Party at Grand Prospect Hall. As far as other pursuits, Murphy participated in Canon’s Project Imaginat10n, which invited 5 different celebrities and personalities to direct short films based on pictures uploaded by photographers and other creatives around the world to their website — and the result was his first directorial effort, “Little Duck,” set in Japan. And interestingly enough, with the assistance of Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman, Murphy released his own blend of espresso and a few years later, Murphy opened a critically applauded restaurant in Williamsburg. Though Murphy publicly stated that LCD Soundsystem’s breakup allowed him the time and ability to pursue a wild array of projects in a way he had never before, he also missed being in a band. Interestingly, towards the end of 2015 there were rumblings that the members of LCD Soundsystem were considering a series of reunion shows for the major festival circuit — and those rumors went wild when the members of the band released “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” ironically enough on Christmas, the first single they released in over 5 years.
After the release of “Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” Murphy and his bandmates confirmed a reunion tour, with appearances at several major music festivals, and a new album, which is slated for release sometime this year. Now, if you’ve been following the blogosphere, you know that Murphy and company had a series of hometown shows to open The Bowery Presents‘ newest venue, Brooklyn Steel and those live shows included two new singles, which will make appearances on the band’s new album — the atmospheric, Berlin Trilogy-era Bowie meets Roxy Music “Call The Police,” which features Murphy’s archly ironic and cynical lyrics and nods a bit at This Is Happening and their incredible cover of Harry Nilsson‘s “Jump Into The Fire” and “American Dream,” a slow-burning track featuring shimmering synths but subtly nods at “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” thanks in part to Murphy’s dramatic crooning, Certainly for fans, who have been waiting for new material for the past 18 months, it’ll give them a good hint of what they might expect from the new album, while also suggesting that the band has continued forward as though they never broke up.
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