The Electronic Double Standard

Written for Collapse Board

A Quietus piece on Bruce Springsteen that suggested that there’s an “assumption that electronic music is automatically more modern and progressive” got me thinking.

I’ve always had a dismissive view of certain bands. Any act that is described as “the new Strokes” gets an automatic snort of derision from me: I didn’t like the old Strokes. I hated the White Stripes. I thought Beady Eye were bloody rubbish, and don’t even get me started on Oasis. If asked, I’d come up with a glib remark about how it’s like xeroxing from a photocopy: the quality degrades with each iteration. After all, why listen to something that sounds like the Stones when you can just listen to the Stones.

Yet I don’t have this attitude towards the slew of electro acts that seem to be absolutely everywhere at the moment. They dominated SXSW – when Bruce Springsteen wasn’t playing – and they mostly sound like this:  Continue reading

Reinspired Year 2 mixtape

It’s been exactly two years since I started this blog and the difference it has made to my life has been remarkable. Not the writing part; I’ve always done that. Even when I wasn’t writing for publication, I was wittering away on internet forums or clogging up Facebook with my rantings. No, it’s the inspiration. It’s like being in love. You know, the butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling you get that makes you feel like you’ll just burst if you don’t shout it from the rooftops – that’s how I feel when I hear a great song. It goes far beyond just transforming my mood or giving me an idea. The word “inspiration” is related to breathing, and that’s how essential and natural this process is. I might have a conscious discipline to blog every day, but that just facilitates my discovery of these wonderful tunes – the words that appear on the screen are just a manifestation, a by-product of the process. If I couldn’t write, I’d just have to speak about it, and if I couldn’t speak I’d grunt and gibber. I’d point. I’d take you by the hand and drag you over to the record player. This. Hear it. Now.

These are just a few of the songs that have inspired me in the past 12 months. You can hear them as a Youtube Playlist (click to stream). Enjoy! Continue reading

First impressions: Gazelle Twin – The Entire City

A while back, I bought and enjoyed the album Ring by Glasser. There’s a lot of similarities between that and this, though Gazelle Twin’s brittle electronica is colder and less textured. There’s a similar approach to songwriting, but the vocals aren’t layered up in the same way. So it’s familiar enough to immediately appeal to Glasser fans but different enough to stay interesting.

Like Glasser, Gazelle Twin is one woman – in this case, Elizabeth Walling from Brighton. Her voice quivers over each pared down mix of bleeps and percussion as if Depeche Mode and Fad Gadget were being haunted by someone from Delerium. There have been the inevitable Bjork comparisons, but to be honest I’ve found Bjork hard to warm to in recent years, her songs accomplished but not engaging. This has no such affliction; it’s all perfectly hummable.  Continue reading

6 of the best from SXSW 2012


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“That isn’t smog, it’s smug! You can have smug in the atmosphere, and you know what that leads to? Global laming! … The perfect storm of self-satisfaction.” – South Park

Yes, there’s something unspeakably smug about SXSW, and all the hipster-haters out there are fantasising about nuking the site from orbit (“it’s the only way to be sure”) – but there are also some fine tunes to be heard this year. Whether you’re an eager trend-chaser trying to find the “hottest new tips for 2012”, or just a bit bored of what’s on your MP3 player, some of these bands are actually any good, including these.  Continue reading