Tag: Chew Lips

A Synth Is For Life & Not Just For Christmas…

Remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas...As the Yule Tide season gets into full swing, The Electricity Club presents a collection of modern seasonal tunes with a more artful slant…

With a song to play on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas, some are covers while others are original compositions. But each has their own take on the holiday period, whether happy or sad or both.

Synths at Christmas are not entirely new; ‘Last Christmas’ by WHAM! was primarily made with a Roland Juno 60 while BAND AID’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas? was dominated by PPG Wave 2.2 with a percussive sample taken from ‘Memories Fade’ by TEARS FOR FEARS also being key to the intro.

Whatever your plans whether with the family or in the studio, please remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas… may it bring you lots of cheer 🎹🎄😉


CHEW LIPS When You Wake Up (2010)

CHEW LIPS may be on hiatus but in 2010, on the back of their only album ‘Unicorn’ and its subsequent tour, they were on a productive high. ‘When You Wake Up’ was a bonus tune recorded and given away as a Christmas gift to fans at the end of that very successful year. Delivered with lead singer Tigs’ usual feisty panache, listening back only highlights how much CHEW LIPS are missed.

Originally released as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/CHEWLiPS/


ERASURE Gaudete (2013)

ERASURE GaudeteAndy Bell and Vince Clarke’s version of this traditional Ecclesiastical Latin carol continued an ERASURE tradition that had begun in 1988 with ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ for the CD edition of the ‘Crackers International’ EP in 1988. With a precise electronic backbeat, ‘Gaudete’ was taken from its 16th Century origins and thrown into the new millennium whilst still retaining its original essence with a cheeky ‘Ice Machine’ reference for good measure.

Available on the album ‘Snow Globe’ via Mute Artists

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


HURTS All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day (2010)

Hurts-christmasWith their TAKE THAT dressed as ULTRAVOX template having achieved great success in Europe, courtesy of their debut album ‘Happiness’, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson parradoxically turned their attentions to memories of “the worst Christmas of our lives”. In true Bros Go To Bavaria style, despite the mournful start, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ steadily transformed itself into a hopeful anthem with a big chorus and lashings of tubular bells.

Available on the download single ‘All I Want for Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ via Major Label / RCA

http://www.informationhurts.com/


HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for Christmas (2013)

HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for ChristmasWhether it was a Casio, Yamaha or Roland, everyone wanted ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’. Texan couple HYPERBUBBLE took that enduring memory and turned it into a delightful synthpop ditty that could resonate with electronic geeks from eight to eighty the world over. Short but sweet, it was another joyous “cartoon automaton symphony” from Jess and Jeff.

Available on the download single ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’ via Socket Sounds

http://www.hyperbubble.net/


LOLA DUTRONIC Another Christmas Without Snow (2010)

Lola Dutronic-Christmas without snowIn the UK, a wet Christmas is always more likely,  but LOLA DUTRONIC’s ‘Another Christmas Without Snow’ resonated with its melancholic yet pretty demeanour. The project of Canadian producer Richard Citroen and using a flexible roster of wispy female vocalists, the tones of Lola Dee came over all dreamy like SAINT ETIENNE and conveyed the season’s mixed emotions.

Available on the download single ‘(Another) Christmas Without Snow’ via Lola Dutronic

https://www.facebook.com/LOLA-DUTRONIC-80232595392/


MARSHEAUX We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night (2015)

GHOSTS-OF-CHRISTMAS-PAST-twi158cd‘We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night’ is a wonderfully whispery synthpop number that is classic MARSHEAUX. The lyrics are constructed from the song and album titles of NEW ORDER to provide an imaginary narrative on Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou surreally bumping into the Manchester combo’s lead singer at a Yule Tide function.

Available on the album ‘Ghost Of Christmas Past Remake)’ (V/A) via Les Disques du Crépuscule

http://www.marsheaux.com


HANNAH PEEL Find Peace (2014)

HANNAH PEEL Find Peace‘Find Peace’ is a Christmas song longing for the cold but merry winters of yesteryear under the modern day spectre of global warming, armed conflict and political tension. It is certainly a suitably poignant message for the festive season. With hints of GAZELLE TWIN, the off-kilter analogue buzzing and almost random sequences make for a striking listen as a frantic percussive death rattle and an emotive synth drone take hold to provide an appropriate backdrop for HANNAH PEEL’s eerie but beautiful voice.

Available on the download and 7 inch single ‘Find Peace’ via Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club

http://www.hannahpeel.com/


PET SHOP BOYS It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (2009)

Pet_Shop_Boys_-_ChristmasOriginally recorded in 1997 for an exclusive fan club single but remixed in 2009 for an official release, ‘It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas’ was a suitably camp offering that couldn’t have been anyone else. Famous for keeping THE POGUES ‘Farytale Of New York’ off the 1987 UK Christmas No1 spot with their cover of ‘Always On My Mind’, while this didn’t hit those commercial heights, it provided a very PET SHOP BOYS take on the madness of the festive season.

Available on the EP ‘Christmas’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


SIN COS TAN Dead By X-Mas (2016)

A cover of Finnish metal glamsters HANOI ROCKS, this take on ‘Dead By X-Mas’ from the nocturnal synth duo SIN COS TAN aka Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen came over a bit like BILLY IDOL gone electro, but with an elegiac twist. Bizarrely in 2006, the former William Broad issued his own collection of seasonal themed tunes entitled ‘Happy Holidays’ … it’s a nice day for a ‘White Christmas!

Available as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan/


SPARKS Christmas Without A Prayer (2015)

SPARKS Christmas Without A PrayerBack in 1974 for their ‘Kimono My House’ album, the Mael brothers recorded a song called ‘Thank God It’s Not Christmas’, a typically perverse SPARKS romp that had nothing to do as such with the holiday season. Currently enjoying their highest profile since their pop heyday, thanks to their FFS collaboration with FRANZ FERDINAND, Russell and Ron ended the year with ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’, a fitting offering which also amusingly outlined that albums by WINGS were actually unwanted gifts.

Available on the download single ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’ via Lil’ Beethoven Records

http://www.allsparks.com/


VICE VERSA Little Drum Machine Boy (2015)

“A twisted cover of a cover of a cover”, this synth laden reinterpretation of the tune (based on a traditional Czech carol) made famous by a bizarre but highly enjoyable version by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, saw former ABC stalwarts Mark White and Stephen Singleton reconvene as  VICE VERSA to wax lyrical about 303s, 808s, 909s and a “shiny new Roland toy”. It was a fabulous combination of sleigh bells, squelching arpeggios and of course, drum machines…

Available as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/Vice-Versa-Electrogenesis-806726912703189/


VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of Christmas (2013)

VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of ChristmasIf ‘Twin Peaks’ met ‘Leader Of The Pack’ under the mistletoe, it would sound like this. Possibly the best Christmas tune of the last five or ten years, Anais Neon’s harrowing tale of a departed loved one is strangely enticing, with the beautifully haunting echoes of JULEE CRUISE’s ‘The Nightingale’ lingering over the frozen lake.

Available on the EP ‘The Ghosts Of Christmas’ via Vile Electrodes

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


A further varied collection of seasonal synth based tunes compiled by The Electricity Club can be listened to at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7vIIjZkGd3cVOSarUPvX85


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th December 2018, updated 21st December 2019

Missing In Action: CHEW LIPS

Chew-LipsFormed in Spring 2008, CHEW LIPS rode on the wave of synth friendly female fronted acts of the period that included LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX, LADY GAGA and LADYHAWKE.

Less overtly poppy than the L-Word foursome, the music press more closely associated CHEW LIPS with THE TING TINGS and YEAH YEAH YEAHS.

The latter were vaguely exploring an electronically enhanced direction, as showcased on the single ‘Zero’, but despite proclamations by YEAH YEAH YEAHS’ singer Karen O that the band had adopted the synth, the resultant album ‘It’s Blitz’ was more like a glitterball new wave record that was still very guitar driven.

Comprising of singer Alicia Huertas (better known to her friends as Tigs) and multi-instrumentalists Will Sanderson (synths and guitars) and James Watkins (bass guitar and synths), CHEW LIPS were actually much closer to the concept of what YEAH YEAH YEAHS would have sounded like if they really had gone all electronic.

Chew-Lips-saltairWith their “8-bit Casiotone drone-disco”, they quickly attracted the attention of hip tastemakers like BBC 6Music’s Steve Lamacq who invited them to record a radio session after only a handful of gigs.

In 2009, the trio were signed to the ultra-hip French record label Kitsune who had launched LA ROUX and DELPHIC.

With a melancholic edge amongst all the blips and blops, the impressive ‘Salt Air’ showcased an accessible promise with pulsing sequencers and drum machines chugging away augmented by some octave shifting bass and occasional guitar like a female fronted NEW ORDER. Meanwhile, the bleepy second single ‘Solo’ had a charming distorted percussive rattle that came over not unlike THE TING TINGS accompanied by a Boss Doctor Rhythm!

CHEW LIPS’ live act was one of their strongest cards with Tigs being a particularly adept front woman. Indeed, her cheeky, flirtatious demeanour recalled Hazel O’Connor. Although Will Sanderson tended to be stuck behind synths, James Watkins generally played bass guitar and his bouncy movements were reminiscent of a certain George Andrew McCluskey. Indeed, CHEW LIPS would at times look like OMD fronted by Debbie Harry! As well as the tunes, the music was enhanced by club friendly sonic bass booms, so CHEW LIPS attracted the sort of audience who found LITTLE BOOTS or LA ROUX too glitzy and preferred their electronic pop with a slightly gloomier edge.

Signing to ATC Management whose founder Brian Message also co-managed RADIOHEAD, CHEW LIPS took the plunge in 2010 with their debut album ‘Unicorn’. Released independently on their own Family Records, it was produced by David Kosten who had steered BAT FOR LASHES for her first two albums. In a brave move, the threesome decided not to include the two singles that had gained them their initial acclaim and focussed totally on brand new material for the ten track collection.

The launch single was the short and immediate ‘Play Together’. A natural development of FC KAHUNA’s ‘Machine Says Yes’, it connected with the Electroclash movement of a few years before while also acting as a worthy successor to ‘Salt Air’. Referencing the post-punk era, ‘Karen’ was brilliant electronically assisted indie pop with hints of guitar-driven NEW ORDER. It wasn’t all uptempo as ‘Too Much Talking’ and ‘Eight’ proved CHEW LIPS could do dark ballads, while ‘Slick’ gradually built itself to a climax around some initially minimal backing. Indeed, the band displayed a knack for songs that were short and sharp with no progressive doodling.

‘Toro’ played with new wave funk of GOSSIP while one of the album’s highlights ‘Two Hands’ captured the drama of classic DEPECHE MODE. There were other Synth Britannia elements too with some Mellotron choir providing an ‘Architecture & Morality’ grandeur on the album’s closer ‘Gold Key’ while offset by an unexpected FM rock guitar solo. But with its haunting piano motif, Kling Klang rhythm section and sparkling OMD styled synth runs, the best song from the ‘Unicorn’ sessions was the beautiful iTunes only bonus track ‘Rising Tide’. The wonderfully spirited, soulful lead vocal from Tigs made it one of the most accomplished tunes from the 2008 school of female fronted electro.

All–in-all, ‘Unicorn’ was an intriguing, enjoyable debut that pointed to a promising future. But the album was not without its faults. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, the tracklisting lacked immediacy and the exclusion of ‘Rising Tide’ from the main feature was a real oversight. A trick was possibly missed by not including the two Kitsune singles as well.

Unicorn_(Chew_Lips)Whereas the intent was probably to give fans value for money and make the album more of an artistic statement, to not have two of the strongest and ‘best known’ songs on the debut long player might well have put off curious but casual newcomers. These listeners could have grown into some of the less immediate material had they initially bought the album for ‘So’ or ‘Salt Air’.

Sometimes, there is only one chance to make a good impression. But although the band did not hit the commercial heights of say LA ROUX, the strategy worked and in 2012, CHEW LIPS were signed by Sony Music.

The first single as a duo ‘Do You Chew?’ showcased a more R ‘n’ B focussed direction influenced by RIHANNA, while the vibrant, punchy pop of ‘Hurricane’ was issued in September 2012. In interviews at the time, Tigs and Watkins declared they had more commercial ambitions compared with when they were recording their debut.

Chew-Lips-duo2012However, the long awaited second album has yet to appear. In April 2013, the URL of CHEW LIPS website appeared to have expired and turned into a mysterious travel blog. Their most recent Facebook page update was in Summer 2014, although the last music related message was November 2013.

But in April 2015, Tigs returned to the public spotlight to run in the London Marathon in her role as a Cancer Research ambassador.

She had been diagnosed with cervical cancer several years previously, but continued to work after having undergone treatment. She was given the all clear in November 2010 and had since run a number of races in aid of the charity.

With Tigs’ tireless fund raising work, music has understandably taken a back seat. But in a domestic electronic pop market today that is perhaps lacking feistiness and sparkle, CHEW LIPS are greatly missed. Whether a second album will ever see the light of day remains to be seen…


CHEW LIPS debut album ‘Unicorn’ was released by Family Records

https://www.facebook.com/CHEWLiPS


Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th August 2015

The Electricity Club’s 2010 End Of Year Review

The Year Of Transistors

“Synthesizers can be explored and explored, and the music that can be made with electronic instruments is infinite in its breadth. KRAFTWERK may have said ‘we are the robots’, but anyone need only listen to Trans-Europe Express and compare it to most of the turgid, boring guitar-based rock that has been produced over the last 30 years to realise that electronic music can be deeply emotional. And anyone who says electronic music is not real music is just too simple-minded for our patience I’m afraid!MIRRORS

2010 saw the return of the male synthpop act, smart boys with their toys and their nods towards the classic era of Synth Britannia.

Leading the way were VILLA NAH and MIRRORS who both fused quality songs with vintage sounds and crisp contemporary percussive frameworks. The two units were obviously pressing the right buttons as both opened as special guests to OMD. As a continued sign of their undoubted potential, both were also were invited to support THE HUMAN LEAGUE; an opportunity which unfortunately neither act was able to fulfil due to prior scheduling commitments.

VILLA NAH released one of the best long players of the year in ‘Origin’, while MIRRORS’ forthcoming album ‘Lights And Offerings’ is likely to be one of the musical highlights of 2011.

Meanwhile HURTS, the enigmatic Mancunian duo who many predicted for major success in 2010, rattled the cages of the style over substance brigade.

Whilst the cinematic grandeur displayed in their best songs like ‘Wonderful Life’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Sunday’ was simply outstanding, they did occasionally walk a fine line with their milder paced material, sounding occasionally like TAKE THAT backed by ULTRAVOX. Despite confusing some listeners, their album ‘Happiness’ was an enormous grower and their live shows won over many new fans, especially on the continent where artful intelligence is a highly regarded attribute.

Interestingly, TAKE THAT themselves released their album ‘Progress’ with Stuart Price aka LES RYTHMES DIGITALES at the producer’s helm.

Featuring a strong electronic flavour, there was also a song called ‘Eight Letters’ based on ‘Vienna’ which resulted in the rather unusual credit ‘written by Barlow / Donald / Orange / Owen / Williams / Ure / Cross / Cann / Currie’!

Attracting cult followings in 2010 were DELPHIC and CHEW LIPS. DELPHIC captured the Factory Records aesthetic of the mutant disco pioneered by NEW ORDER and A CERTAIN RATIO, but were unable to attract mainstream recognition probably due to their reliance on grooves and jams rather than actual songs… they can only get better with time.

CHEW LIPS are YEAH YEAH YEAHS with synths and while they had several brilliant numbers in their cannon, not all were included on their rather short debut album ‘Unicorn’. This didn’t allow them to play to their strengths on record although this was fully exploited in their live show. Again, they will learn.

And not wishing to get wholly involved in the main skirmish, THE SOUND OF ARROWS maintained a low profile while recording their debut album in London but delivered some impressive concert showcases of their lush Nordic musicality. Their optimistic and aspirational ‘Disney meets Brokeback Mountain’ tone may be the fresh approach to electropop in 2011.

Kookiness was the order of the day with the raven haired beauties MARINA & THE DIAMONDS and EMILIE SIMON. Marina Lambrini Diamandis kept the spirit of SPARKS alive with some fe-Mael intuition on her superb debut ‘The Family Jewels’ while EMILIE SIMON crossed the channel for some ‘one girl and her synth’ shows to fill the gap left by the absence of LITTLE BOOTS in 2010.

As could have been expected after the promotional lash of last year, Victoria Hesketh took a break before starting work on her new album. Hertfordshire’s SUNDAY GIRL could be the next lady-in-waiting providing she can expand on the very promising material like All The Songs and Stop Hey! that was premiered in the latter part of the year.

Meanwhile LA ROUX toured the world and recorded a ‘Stones cover ‘Under Your Thumb’ for the ‘Sidetracked’ influences DJ mix compilation before giving old mate SKREAM the iTunes bonus track Saviour for a dubstep rework as Finally and guesting with CHROMEO. However, Elly Jackson appears to have forgotten that No.1 rule of not biting the hand that feeds you by exclaiming “… I don’t want to make synth music for the rest of my f*cking life!” and declaring the electropop genre “over”!

In the battle of Synth Britannia, OMD released their first collection of new material for 14 years while THE HUMAN LEAGUE delayed their full album return until 2011. THE HUMAN LEAGUE have the backing of electronic music guru Mark Jones’ Wall Of Sound label and thus far have played a ‘less is more’ approach.

Despite not having an official website until this year, some clever viral marketing sent interest in their single ‘Night People’ sky high and provided good business for their now almost traditional Christmas UK tour.

While OMD’s ‘History of Modern’ album had several outstanding tracks worthy of comparison with past glories, it was confusingly launched with an Aretha Franklin mash-up that wasn’t on the final tracklisting and a nauseating Britpop pastiche as lead single.

Ironically one of the statements made in its sleeve notes was “Modern is not… Oasis”!

It was as if audiences who had traditionally been sceptical of the whole synthesizer axis were now being targeted. However, electronic pop’s spiritual homeland of Germany welcomed OMD back like one of their own and respectable business for ‘History of Modern’ was generated.

A-HA though are proof that consistently high quality new material is still a possiblity 25 years after your commercial heyday with the focus of their final album ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ very much on their synthesizer roots. In late 2010, they bid farewell with a final tour and a superb double CD compilation called ’25’ which featured not only their hits but the best of their much under valued album tracks.

Among the acts celebrating their legacies, HEAVEN 17 enhanced their reputation no-end by participating in a brilliant BBC6 Music collaboration with “the falsetto from the ghetto” LA ROUX.

And if that wasn’t enough, they had not one but two BBC TV programmes featuring their highly regarded album ‘Penthouse & Pavement’ including their triumphant Sheffield Magna gig.

HOWARD JONES didn’t look a day older, proving that a vegetarian diet and a clean living spirituality was the key to eternal youth! He played ‘Human’s Lib’ and ‘Dream Into Action’ in full for the first time at Indigo2.

Former sparring partners ULTRAVOX and JOHN FOXX played very different types of live shows in 2010. ULTRAVOX almost went back to basics with the retrospective ‘Return To Eden 2’ tour while JOHN FOXX curated an audio/visual extravaganza at the Short Circuit Festival featuring a deluge of analogue synths and some new material to a mixed reception.

DEPECHE MODE completed their ‘Tour Of The Universe’ and capped it all with a special show at the Royal Albert Hall for The Teenage Cancer Trust where Alan Wilder was reunited with the band for the first time in 16 years during the encore of ‘Somebody’.

It was an emotional night for many including the band. Does this lay out the foundations for, if not a reunion, at least some future work together?

GOLDFRAPP returned with ‘Head First’, a mid-Atlantic AOR styled electronic romp that had echoes of ABBA, LAURA BRANIGAN and OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN. Some found it uninspiring but what could not be denied was the catchiness of the tunes. Given time, it will become a future guilty pleasure.

Meanwhile LADYTRON prepared a career spanning compilation Ladytron ’00-10′ to reinforce their reputation as one of the key electronic based acts of the last decade but they began the year contributing a pair of excellent bonus tracks to CHRISTINA AGUILERA’s album ‘Bionic’ in ‘Birds Of Prey’ and ‘Little Dreamer’.

Swedish songstress ROBYN continued her feisty independent spirit by releasing her ‘Body Talk’ trilogy and the excellent single ‘Dancing On My Own’, while both LADY GAGA and KYLIE kept electronically produced pop in the mainstream consciousness.

Across the water, New York’s THE GOLDEN FILTER added a crisp vibe to the electronic dancefloor via some dreamy Scandinavian influences and frantic tribal percussion while their neighbours THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS brought a mechanised twist to new wave on their self-titled debut.

And for the perfect after party soundtrack in the Big Apple, ARP provided some gorgeous modern day ambience with the album ‘The Soft Wave’.

Meanwhile, another North American based duo LOLA DUTRONIC relaunched their brand of dreamy Gallic flavoured electro-lounge pop with the ‘Musique’ EP.

Elsewhere internationally, the vivacious SHH became the latest in a line of Argentine musicians basing themselves in London for an assault on the UK and European market while Texans HYPERBUBBLE brought their own ‘bionic bubblepunk’ with the impressive ‘Candy Apple Daydreams’. MARSHEAUX had a quiet year, only releasing a cover of BILLY IDOL’s Eyes Without a Face for an Amnesty International compilation while the ever prolific PARRALOX released their third album in as many years with ‘Metropolis’, refining their pure pop direction.

The British independent electro scene remained vibrant with North Wales’ FUTURE PERFECT releasing an immediately enjoyable debut in ‘Dirty Little Secrets’ and Brighton’s TENEK impressing on their second album ‘On The Wire’ with a more accessible anthemic synth sound.

VILE ELECTRODES steadily gained fans on the London club circuit with their mix of fetish porn and analogue synths while following some line-up changes, THE VANITY CLAUSE finally released their first album ‘Fractured’.

And the quirky Sheffield based duo THE CHANTEUSE & THE CLAW unleashed a superb debut single in ‘Are You One?’.

Overall in 2010, the spark generated by the new generation of synthesizer acts and the willingness of others to incorporate more electronic sounds into their work accounted for yet another productive year with the heritage acts also getting the cultural recognition they fully deserved. Ever supportive, The Guardian even featured a piece on the older incarnation entitled Forgive Us Our Synths which interestingly was almost two years after their prophetic Slaves To Synth article hit the public consciousness.

There were more quality albums and live shows of interest to the electro fan than in many years past with acts such as MIRRORS, VILLA NAH and HURTS fulfilling the role of worthy successors to the classic Synth Britanniageneration. Hopefully, other acts will be following in their footsteps. In fact, despite being ignored by the BBC Sound Of 2011 and New To Q listings which appear to have been locked into some evil parallel universe where good taste does not seem to reside, “… fey, gay, pseudo-intellectual synth b*llocks” still rules!


TEC CONTRIBUTOR LISTINGS OF 2010

STEVE GRAY

Best Album: TENEK On The Wire
Best Song: HURTS Unspoken
Best Gig: DEPECHE MODE at London Royal Albert Hall
Best Video: MIRRORS Ways To An End
Most Promising New Act: MIRRORS


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: VILLA NAH Origin
Best Song: MIRRORS Ways To An End
Best Gig: HEAVEN 17 at Sheffield Magna
Best Video: HURTS Wonderful Life
Most Promising New Act: THE SOUND OF ARROWS


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: HURTS Happiness
Best Song: OMD History Of Modern (Part I)
Best Gig: THE HUMAN LEAGUE + HEAVEN 17 at Galway Festival
Best Video: HURTS Stay
Most Promising New Act: MIRRORS


JOHAN WEJEDAL

Best Album: PAGE Nu
Best Song: POLAROID MILITIA Astana My Hero
Best Gig: PAGE at Gothenburg Synthklubben
Best Video: VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red
Most Promising New Act: THE GIRL & THE ROBOT


Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th December 2010

CHEW LIPS Live at Cargo

Despite proclamations in 2009 by their singer Karen O that the YEAH YEAH YEAHS had adopted the synth, the resulting ‘It’s Blitz’ album was actually a polished guitar based new wave record with hints of glitterball seasoning.

But with CHEW LIPS, you actually get what YEAH YEAH YEAHS probably would have sounded like if they really had gone electronic.

A London based trio consisting of Tigs (vocals), Will Sanderson (synthesizers and guitars) and James Watkins (bass guitar and synths), CHEW LIPS released two singles ‘Solo’ and ‘Salt Air’ on the ultra-hip French Kitsune label who successfully launched LA ROUX and DELPHIC.

Describing their own music as “8-bit Casiotone drone-disco” which perfectly sums up ‘Salt Air’, their sound is sparse but there are plenty of pulsing sequencers and drum machines chugging away alongside the occasional spot of bass and guitar. Their songs have a melancholic edge and occasionally like on ‘Solo’, possess a distorted percussive rattle that is not unlike THE TING TINGS accompanied by a Boss Doctor Rhythm!

Probably missing a trick by not including the brilliant Kitsune singles on their debut album ‘Unicorn’, the benefit of CHEW LIPS’ live show therefore is that they can now showcase the highlights of their catalogue in one sitting. And in the superb venue Cargo in London’s trendy Shoreditch on the last day of April, they did just that.

Tigs is a tremendous front woman, wonderfully coquettish and cheekily flirty. Swaying around the stage and occasionally playing a bit of ‘air’ percussion, she was a reminder of the great lineage of post-punk front women like Debbie Harry and Hazel O’Connor.

With James’ bouncy movements on bass not unlike a certain George Andrew McCluskey, at times CHEW LIPS came over like OMD led by BLONDIE!

This was none more so than on their best track ‘Rising Tide’ with its haunting piano, precise drum machine and bass with sparkling synth-harp runs and a spirited vocal.

Meanwhile, Will was playing squelch games with the audience, those bass synth booms were like analogue thrill rides; just enough discomfort for that adrenalin rush but not so long as to make you physically sick.

New single ‘Karen’ is brilliant electro indie with hints of guitar-driven NEW ORDER while ‘Slick’ takes a great bleep forward as it builds around the minimal backing. ‘Toro’ (Italian for “bull”) is less aggressive GOSSIP-style new wave funk and ‘Play Together’ is a worthy successor to ‘Salt Air’. Tigs’ favourite CHEW LIPS song ‘Two Years’ is a new addition to the set and comes on like classic DEPECHE MODE while grandeur filled closer ‘Gold Key’ borrows that Mellotron choir from OMD and even features a guitar solo!

To indicate that it may have been an artistic misjudgement not to include ‘Solo’ and ‘Salt Air’ on ‘Unicorn’, they invariably get the crowd dancing and receive biggest receptions of the night. With a tightly focused and well choreographed one hour show, CHEW LIPS rose to the challenge and delivered. Their songs are short and sharp. No progressive doodling or extended versions here, just good tunes. Word will get round!


CHEW LIPS album ‘Unicorn’ is released on Family Records

http://chew-lips.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Richard Price
1st May 2010