The Hated Opinionated One

Posts Tagged ‘Synth-Pop’

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Take The Offensive With It’s Blitz!

Posted by Scotio on March 12, 2009

its-blitzStop me if you heard this one before: A nerd, a goth & a fashionista walk into a bar. They set up to play some songs, and end up having the whole bar wanting to be social misfits. You heard that one already? Well, I’m sure you’d have to had either lived on another planet or under the Earth’s surface to not have heard of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs by now. With their new album It’s Blitz! they unleash a lot of familiar and a bunch of new. Karen O, Nick Zinner & Brian Chase prove to the critics and fans that their once every three years LP output is more than enough to solidify their position in someone’s future Hall Of Fame.

To start off, let’s talk about the lead single, “Zero.” With Mr. Zinner’s guitars distorted and strumming along to the pulse of the synth makes heads bob like birds on the roost. Mr. Chase no longer plays the role as the third wheel in the band. His cadence is more than up to par, and his hi-hat hits draws the attention of anyone in the mood to boogie on down. Ms. O’s lyrics are the anthem for all those original hipsters who were hip to the YYYs before the media frenzy caught onto them. Letting all the Zeros out there know that they feel the same way. The song seems more like a statement of self expression in regards to their strange climb of fame. The weirdos & company totally have a track to cut a rug with, now. But, don’t be alarmed if the sheep follows them to the dance floor.

“Soft Shock” is even stronger in the force that is Synth-Pop. If not for nothing else but to see them perform all the synth work, I’d love to see this track done live. It’s hard to say this, but it seems that Karen O is the one playing the sidekick to this track. The work that Zinner & Chase put into the production of the track is just enticing. Brian keeps up with Nick’s amazing instrumental work. I’m sure Sitek’s production direction helped greatly in the making of it, as well. Wait, allow me to clarify. I, by no means, am trying to imply that Karen O’s work on this piece is minuscule & meaningless. It’s just that her vocals stood out so much more in their traditional style. In this formula, her voice seems, well, comfortable. It’s like it belonged here all along. So, for the more accustomed fan, it’s a bit throwing for the production to be so full and lively.

“Dull Life” comes off with a strange vibe. No, it’s not a bad track. It just sounds like something from the Throw Your Bones work. Whereas everything else is so strong and “different” for the band, that familiar sound seems to be holding them a bit back. No, not in general, but for this album. Though I love that sound, it isn’t well suited amongst these other vibrantly filled up pieces. For “Dragon Queen,” Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio(Sitek’s main band) sings background for the entire song. The sound of the track comes off like something from the time of Disco. In fact, if you had a time machine, went back, and played them this track I’m sure they wouldn’t think that it was anything different from what they were already jamming to. So, don’t be surprised if James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem falls in love with this song and enforces it to be played everywhere he goes.

My official love track of this offering is “Hysteric.” It’s a YYYs take on Dream Pop. And, dreamy it is. Ms. O’s voice is soft & delicate on this track. She seems to be singing from her heart rather than her sass. “The cinders, the cinders/ They light the path/ Of these strange steps/ Take Us Back, Take Us Back/ Flow sweetly, hang heavy/ You suddenly complete me.” The lyrics indicate a couple that was once on the brink of destruction, only to allow that destruction to bring them back together and fall back in love. Zinner’s atmospheric instrumentation is epic in it’s lo-fi sort of way. It plays like the soundtrack to a dream. Chase’s drum work goes back to it’s original position within the band’s dynamic. But, it works even better than it did in the original structure. Rarely changing, but constantly pushing you to keep going. The ending with the tambourine & whistling is reminiscent of Old School Soul music.

What’s familiar is their producer of choice(the highly in demand Dave Sitek) and their brass outcast attitude. What’s new is their Dance-Punk gyrations, their symphony string additions, their acoustic implementations and their openly honest confessions. If you acquire their Deluxe Edition, you’ll be treated to Acoustic versions of some selected tracks from the album. Replacing all the electronic work with acoustic guitars and brilliant string performances. This three piece have showed that they can roll with the movement of musical shifts without selling their souls or cashing in their hearts. They were once a band paying hommage to a generation that they were only eye twinkles when it was alive. They didn’t try to emulate that sound, but rather put their own unique spin on it. With this album’s sound being updated to the generation that succeeds their original sound’s influences, the same has taken place. A nod to the dancing pop era, but in the fashion of the three strangies from Brooklyn. If they keep it up, they’ll always be behind . . . and since Retro is always the “new” new, they’ll always be ahead.




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Telefon Tel Aviv Gives Good Reason For You To Immolate Yourself

Posted by Scotio on January 27, 2009


This will actually be my first post in 2009. Crazy. And, I guess for my readers, I’m sorry I left you guys off for so long. Life is a crazy battle, man. Especially in these days and times . . . and in this sad economy. But, with the statement of life, it’s with a heavy heart that I write this review. That’s because it’s from my favorite Electronic group: Telefon Tel Aviv. And this afternoon I heard about the passing of Charlie Cooper. No, this isn’t some pity party review or anything of the sort. Sadly, I was planning on writing this and some other reviews and dropping them all this weekend. But, after learning of the passing, I felt obligated to start what I feel about their new record Immolate Yourself. So, please, take a moment with me as I journey through some of Charlie Cooper’s great, yet short, musical legacy.

The album opens up with the track “Birds.” Instantly, the listeners is treated to some Synth-Pop sounds. No, you read that right. Ttv has switched up their sound to a more dance welcoming one. Those of you whom are fans of this duo are probably shocked at this point. Me, oddly, I wasn’t. They’ve never been ones to settle for the cheap tricks and safe play. This song full of volume and layers, amazing execution and a pop sensibility that is shocking for the duo. It seems that it’s a good thing for them to encourage their fans to do more than just ponder the day, as they did with their first effort and half of their second. No, I can’t tell you the basis for them naming this track, but I can tell you that you will feel that you’ve taken flight towards somewhere new with some familiar friends when hearing this tune.

On the follow up song, “Your Mouth,” it comes on like a B-Side to Thom Yorke’s solo material. And, sonically, it’s not too far from it . . . originally. When the beat picks up, it goes into a sonic landscape that I haven’t beared witness towards since Moments In Love by Art of Noise. The vocals are digitized and “float” from above to below the sound of the music itself. Thus, making it more than just words to accompany the music, but even confusing the listener into believing that they aren’t vocals at some points. It’s like taking a peek inside of someone’s dream, but with your eyes closed and headphones on. It’s an awesome piece of music, and you’d be stone to not feel some type of movement from it. Be it physically or emotionally.

One of the most beautiful songs is “I Made A Tree On The World Wold.” No, it’s not a typo on my part. They spell the word “WOLD.” I, honestly, didn’t even know that wold was a word until stumbling upon this song. With the analog styled recording process, the song has a certain slight grain to it that seems to add quality to it than it does take away from it. The sound is serene and beautiful. My feelings of listening to this song is that of being in water and a wave washing over me. This track is closest to something that you’d almost expect from Boards of Canada. Eustis & Cooper seemed to have wanted more from themselves on this record, and wasn’t overly focusing on the “micro” as Josh put it. They were more in the moment, it feels. And, when you hear the song, whatever moment you’re experiencing will be THE moment.

“Stay Away From Being Maybe” should be featured in the supposed Footloose remake. It has all the qualities of a decent dance record, but also carries with it an air of innocence and freedom. It’s an exhilarating presence embedded into the melody and composure of the track. You can’t help but be undertaken by it’s Joie de Vivre aural message that it begins to sneak into your mind. The layers are almost contradicting of themselves, yet, for some reason, they all seem to work together dynamically.

Now, allow me to talk about my favorite track on this ten song epic journey. It’s simply just one letter: “M.” It comes in with an almost omniscent atmospheric presence. Then, after some heavily airy echoed vocals, the 808 sounding stomps make their moment known. The track itself, flips in and out of being an anthem for something larger than life, and a break dancer/pop locker’s wet dream. Having hard hits and perfectly structured digital glitches, it’s hard not to pull out your dancing shoes and begin moonwalking to the club on this one. With the repetitive “All I can see, All I can see, All I can see” chanting, you start to believe that what they are seeing is you killing it on the dancefloor.

With every track just as awesome as the one before it, it’s hard to find a problem with this release. In fact, I haven’t found one. I fell in love with this album upon the first listen, and even after the 39th listen, I love it just the same . . . if not more. I could go on about every single song on this record, including their lead single “Helen Of Troy.” With my newfound love for wanting Vinyl albums, I can only hope to obtain this masterpiece on Vinyl. I’d love to place it on a turntable and spend a full adventure with it. I feel the analog recording will only play a deeper role in the album’s enjoyment on that format. It’s almost depressing to know that Charlie Cooper isn’t with us anymore to team up with Joshua Eustis and bless us with great music. At 31 years of age, he was still a young man with a strong future of music ahead of him. Now, we’ll have to hold fast to what he did give, and hope that Josh carries the torch in honor of him. I always thought that they were both equally impressive individually, and their combination made for something that you’d only dare to dream for. I loved Ttv ever since I first heard Fahrenheit Far Enough, and adored Map Of What Is Effortless(though people have had their qualms with that release). I’ve talked about them to everyone I know, and even forced their music upon my misses(whom, I will say loved them, as well) and my musically explorative friends. As well as spoke of their wondrous music across many musical forums via the interweb. Please, I implore you, if you haven’t listened to them, do so. Not just for the fact of Cooper’s passing, but for the fact that their music is as good as I’ve pedestaled it to be. I do ask of you to allow your mind to remain open as you venture up(and hopefully back down) their discography.

R.I.P. Charles W. Cooper, III



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The Trucks Drive On The Left Lane Only

Posted by Scotio on April 27, 2008

The Trucks are a band from Bellingham, Washington in the USA. After that, there is nothing normal about this all girl act. Drenching their music in the Synth-Pop formula and filling in the void with lewd and humorous lyrics, these girls are like the goofy female version of Animal Collective. Experimental is exactly what they are, in the strangest sense of the word. On the track “Titties,” they uncaringly ridicule the man who is trying desperately to score a homer run on these ladies. With a chorus housing the lines “What makes you think we can F*ck just be cause you put your tongue/In my mouth/And you twist-ed/My titties baby,” it’s not hard to tell that you’re in for the ride of your life(or maybe just a really long one for the night). The song “Zombie” has to be one of the best tracks on this album. The drums and bass take the center stage over all the other instruments. That could be due to the fact they use soft synths and mellow guitar riffs to go with the dynamic instrumental duo. “Messages” starts off with what sounds like a phone call being made and a soft guitar riff, followed by vocals that coast over the guitar’s melody. In a humorous way, the girls manage to come across as being very charmingly lovestruck. Then, they flip it for the second rendition of the chorus, being upset that the man muse of theirs just wasn’t expressing himself at the right times. The song is filled up with what sounds like voicemail samples galore. Hopefully, they aren’t real, because if they are, the men who left them will really feel bad if they hear this song. The band gets extremely goof on songs like “Man Voice,” “Old Bikes,” “Big Afros,” and even the album’s introduction . . . titled “Introduction.” For the song “3AM,” the girls bring the American companion to virtually any song by the Brazilian band Cansei de Ser Sexy (known by the abbreviation CSS). Having the same funky type of synthed bassline, with lyrics as equally tongue-in-cheek. It’s hard to properly pin down these ladies, as they just refuse to play by the rules in any type of situation. This is not music for people who take themselves too seriously. This is music for those who just don’t give a damn. This is music for girls from 7 Eleven, because they stay up all night. So, if you’re a stick in the mud, I beg you to stay away from the band. They’ll either piss you off, or have you not walking around like that same stick that’s in the mud is stuck up your arse.



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