Archive for the 'New Wave' Category

EP – Plushgun – Plushgun

Posted by admin on 16th November 2008

  • Band / Artist : PlushgunmySpace
  • Genre : New Wave / Electoacoustic
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Tommy Boy
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

With a ton of unsolicited gems coming in from various Indie Launchpad partners, I sometimes have to put together a random sampling from various places, sit down and see what I’ve got. This was the case with the new EP release from Plushgun, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Not that I should be. In building up the relations I have with some of the greatest labels, management and publicity companies, it should come as no surprise that they pretty much only send me stuff they know I’ll like.

Opening with “Just Impolite” again, it’s the production that hit me first, with a wonderful 3D surround sound, that really impressed me, especially seeing as I wasn’t wearing headphones. The style of music is very reminiscent of OMD, or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark for the unenlightened, who weren’t old enough to live through their music in the 80’s. That 80’s sound is very prevalent, but it reminds me more of 80’s soundtracks, especially the moments in the movies, that have that double edge, between despair and hopefulness. Think John Hughes and any one of his great movies from the 80’s like 16 Candles, Trains Planes and Automobiles, and Pretty in Pink and you’ll be pretty close. The second track “14 Candles” is almost an indirect nod to this 80’s genre. Don’t however think of this as some cheesy throwback to the 80’s, this is very much music for today, but with a heavy influence that’s been embarrassed to the full.

“How We Roll” takes the 80’s influence to the next step, going for a more frenetic, power driven beat and it’s just a wonder to behold. The final track “Without a Light” begins almost like a Vangelis track, but then in kicks the drums and heavy keyboards and you realise that this EP is not going our without some kicking and screaming, metaphorically speaking anyway.

Conclusion : A wonderful find, from a wonderful artist. Plushgun have a new album, “Pins and Panzers”, due in Feb of 2009. I shall be looking forward to that with baited breath.

Posted in Electroacoustic, New Wave | No Comments »

Album – SLAVE to the SQUAREwave – SLAVE to the SQUAREwave

Posted by admin on 11th August 2008

80’s hairs, 80’s fashion and not forgetting 80’s music. It all came flooding back when I heard SLAVE to the SQUAREwave (STTSW) for the first time on Pete Cogle’s PC Podcast. Although the band are virtually right on my door step, here in Canada, it would be easy to transplant them back into 80’s England, were time travel possible. The first track “Sinners of Saint Avenue” sounds very much like The Associates, who had a big hit with “Party Fears Two” in the early 80’s. The vocals don’t quite cover the same range, or have the same intensity of the Associates lead singer Billy McKenzie, but they share that similar Bowiesque vibe. “New York’s a Go-Go”, begins in a very electrofunk style, but that is soon quashed with heavy guitars and then a more contemporary vocalist came to mind, Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy.

“Big Change” has that electronic swirling string sound, but it’s upon hearing the vocals that the power of the 80s’ washes over me again. Although “Pumping up the P House” follows in a similar formula, there’s just something about it, that disagrees with me. In fact with 14 tracks on the album, there’s a wealth of music, resulting in an album that’s an hour long and whilst I enjoyed the majority of tracks on the album, there was the odd one or two that seemed slightly out of place, the aforementioned, being one of them.

Of the remaining tracks, I loved “London Baby”, with it’s hint of 90’s pop and “Hopeless Believers” with a great acoustic guitar intro, or I’m assuming it’s acoustic, but knowing this band it’s probably all electronic. “Gorilla Swingin’ Discotheque” would have to be included in the tracks I like, be it just for the title, fortunately there’s also a driving, relentlessness, that while alienating the bands 80’s hallmark, has an almost hypnotic charm.

The album finishes off with a remix of “Pumping Up the P House”, which while not my favorite track, is much preferable to the original.

A really interesting band, that has their feet firmly in the 80’s, but manage to add a more contemporary edge. As an album it feels a little disjointed, but there are enough gems to make the album a worthy addition to your collection. They’re certainly a band I’d be interesting in seeing live, as I’d be quite interested in how they bring this all together live.

Conclusion : A wonderful 80’s bitchslap, which brings back vivid memories of growing up, but also allows me again to wallow in some great music, of a style that is often overlooked.

Posted in Electro, New Wave, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Cure for the Common Crush – Id Guinness

Posted by admin on 15th January 2008

Two things struck me when I first put on this album, or should I say two artists. One of them has been receiving renewed interest of late and that would be Led Zepplin. The other is an artist I reviewed here back in August, Aaron English. There is a real air of theatrics, which is exceedingly uncommon in albums today, or rather should I say in good albums. I’ve been following Id for quite a while. My memory was jogged again, way back in August of 2006 when I heard a track of his on the PC Podcast. This is an album that grabs you the first instant. When the last track finishes, you really feel like you’ve listened to something epic, in the best traditions of old.

Opening with “Rising River” you are immediately engulfed by what can only perceived as a supergroup in action, which is quite magical and awe inspiring. “The One That Got Away” has wonderful strings underpinning the track, which brings back memories of the Beatles, Eleanor Rigby. Where that was tinged with sadness, this track is tinged with a dark, almost maniacal feeling. The next track “Jade Garden” employs that vox coder sound, sometimes used by Pink Floyd, adding an inexplicable air to a song, that probably would have felt quite different without.

“I Have Seen the Future” feels very much like a natural break, with a more sedate pace and a sound that is much more radio friendly, Not that that means too much these days. I probably listen to about 10 minutes of radio, during a working week and that’s just for the news in the morning. “Down to This” starts of with a much more simpler, rougher sound than you expect, compared to the tracks that precedes it, but due to this sound, mainly due to the guitars, does again feel very much like Zepplin.

When an album has a title track, I’ve mentioned a few times, how I always expect it to be the strength on which the other tracks can lie for support. I wasn’t too sure about “Cure for the Common Crush”. It is a very laid back and slow burning song and to tell the truth, it took me a few listens to really warm to it, but I think it has a great feel and the production is great, with many interesting sounds and vocals. The next track “Always Crashing in the Same Car”, is a David Bowie cover, to which I’m not too familiar. I’m a big Bowie fan, but I’m only really familiar with his major hits, plus the odd album, usually his later releases. So when I heard this track I was unaware of the Bowie roots, until my memory was jogged by an email Id sent me, reminding me that this could not be the downloadable track used for this album, as being a cover it was not podsafe. For me this was a pleasant track, but nothing more. This track indeed marks the turning point of the album. The darker, edgier side is replaced by a more chilled out and relaxed side, which I have to admit, at first I was disappointed with, but the more I heard the album, the more I liked this split personality.

“Negative” with it’s sweeping keyboards, takes me back to the 90’s, as does the whole sound / production of the track. The 90’s theme continues with “The Joke”, which also brought to mind A-Ha, the Norwegian band, best remembered for their hit song “Take on Me”. It’s not so much Id’s voice, but more the phrasing of the lyrics and the lyrics themselves. “Beaches” is probably my least favorite track. It’s very moody and atmospheric, but just didn’t click with me. “Beautiful Goodbye”, is also a very pleasant track, but similarly, didn’t grab the way I really wanted it to. The penultimate track “25 Watts”, feels very 80’s rock, almost like a track from one of those teen movies, but there’s something about it, maybe the nostalgic feel, that really struck a chord with me.

And so the final track “Wailing Wall” is upon me and suddenly that real magic feel from the earlier tracks was back. What’s surprising is that this track is more laid back prog rock, than the earlier theatrical style, but it’s just a glorious ramble, with some very Floydian female vocals.

Conclusion : This album reminds me greatly of getting my grubby mitts on a new Pink Floyd release. At first you have the excitement, then the wonder of a new discovery, rounded off with the familiarity of an old friend. It’s an album that comes out of the gate with a snarl and finishes off with a lingering embrace.

Posted in New Wave, Progressive, Rock | No Comments »