Tag: Lovelife

LOVELIFE Interview

Brooklyn based UK duo LOVELIFE made their UK live debut in London’s Camden Barfly for a much anticipated showcase of their indie R’n’B electro fusion.

Having played numerous gigs in their adopted home of New York, Lee Newell, one-time lead singer with VIVA BROTHER and Ally Young, formally of MIRRORS were suitably relaxed and showed no nerves beforehand.

The evening was opened by the impressive NIGHT ENGINE, a band who hail from Once In Royal David’s City… Bowie and Byrne that is. Despite their obvious influences, their energetic artful pop (complete with mad Eno-esque synth dressage) was an immediately accessible joy.

But it was LOVELIFE that the crowd had come to see so opening with the brilliant ‘Brave Face’ from the debut ‘El Regreso’ EP, Newell showed himself to be a very capable and charismatic front man, his boy band looks winning favour with numerous female members of the audience. Young meanwhile continued to display the exuberant enthusiasm that was always a pleasing feature at MIRRORS gigs, harmonising with Newell while handling his Dave Smith Prophet 08 and Moog Little Phatty. Incidentally, it was also great to see MIRRORS’ James Arguile in the crowd giving his support to his former bandmate and later affirming his positive vibes about the music.

LOVELIFE’s performance was augmented by drums and guitar; while these elements added a sure-fire bite to proceedings, neither was too imposing with the former providing percussive colours alongside the power while the latter gave texture to the grooves, samples and synthetic atmospheres….however, it was quite different from VIVA BROTHER despite these two additional musicians Frank Colucci and Sam Jackson both being ex-Brothers.

Running though a variety of beat driven numbers such as ‘Tonight (We’re Taking Our Own Lives)’, ‘Your New Beloved’ and ‘Invisible’, LOVELIFE’s genre blend worked well in a live setting, the contrast of Newell’s and Young’s tastes pushing boundaries for an unusual template within electronic pop.

Not quite synthpop, not quite indie rock and not quite R’n’B but most definitely different.

Newell’s lyrical gists are often very personal and none more so than on ‘She Makes It Look So Easy’. Closing with the rousing and anthemic pop of ‘Heaven’, the most immediate song from their new release ‘The Fourth Floor’, LOVELIFE are finding their way and most importantly enjoying the ride.

Just prior to this performance, Ally Young and Lee Newell spoke to The Electricity Club to give an insight into their music and values…

What inspired you to come together musically as LOVELIFE?

Lee: We never intended to write music together, Ally was working as a producer on VIVA BROTHER’s second album. We started writing tunes over a period of six months and realised there was a connection there so we wanted to see how far we could take it.

Ally: Yeah, we never planned to do it.

What is the creative dynamic between the two of you?

Ally: The way we’ve done it is kind of an evolution. After we did the VIVA BROTHER album, we kept going with stuff together that was different to what both of us had done previously. We can start from a drum loop, chord progression or a melody. Lee writes all the toplines and all the lyrics but we do everything else together, bouncing ideas back and forth.

The indie press and blogs appear to have assumed LOVELIFE is a reincarnation of VIVA BROTHER and some have been dismayed by the more electronic based content?

Lee: I expected it to happen but you can’t get hung up on those sorts of things. You’ve go to do what you gotta do and just play music! We’re not here to please anyone other than ourselves; I think that’s the whole ethos behind our music. Before perhaps we’ve been ushered into areas we weren’t necessarily meant to go but now we’ve got this freedom and no pressure from labels, just pressure from ourselves. Because we’re doing it on our own terms, there’s no need to worry about anything else. So whilst a few of the blogs were a bit dismayed, I think now a lot people are getting quite excited about the whole thing from what I hear.

Ally: Like Lee said, it wasn’t a total shock, it’s just a bit lazy saying “this is VIVA BROTHER reincarnated”; I wasn’t in the band so it can’t be!

You decamped to New York…

Lee: …we wanted to get away from it all after VIVA BROTHER and our manager suggested we get our pennies together and relocate to New York to make something happen.

Ally: We didn’t take much persuading!

Lee: So we went and then six months later, we went with the idea of playing some gigs as a band and came back as LOVELIFE. What you see in the show is like a year’s worth of writing and recording.

Ally: We literally went at the drop of a hat! We didn’t know what we were going to do when we got there…I’d never even been to New York! We were a band that no-one knew who had three songs on the internet so we started from the bottom. We had nothing and it was really exciting.

Lee: It was really frightening; it could have all gone off in our faces! “Oh god what have we done! We put our lives on hold and now what?” But we wanted to come back and show everyone what we’d done.

Ally; was there much escaping and soul searching from your point of view after MIRRORS?

Ally: No-one knows who I am so there was no need to escape!!

Lee: I thought his band were good!

Ally: For me, it was a little simpler in that we did that first record ‘Lights & Offerings’ and we toured it but we were coming to the point where writing the second record had begun. I felt like I’d taken it as far as I could perhaps emotionally as I wanted to…we were writing things that were good but I didn’t feel like I wanted to be part of it anymore. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the point but I did know it wasn’t that!

Had you grown out of the classic synth thing? I always had the impression that you were most into it out of the four of you…

Ally: It was probably mostly me…when we started MIRRORS, James New and I wanted to do an electronic band that wasn’t a traditional live band and banished all those elements of real guitars and drums. That was exciting because you set yourself limits that you work within and do things in a different way. Those same invisible walls that we put up to make MIRRORS felt liberating but by the end of it, I couldn’t really do what I wanted to do. So LOVELIFE, I feel is exactly what I want to do; we’re not just an electronic band so when you see us live, we are a proper band with a guitarist and drummer. We use samples that are triggered from the drum kit but that’s what I love, there’s a lot more emotion in it.

Lee: What Ally said is quite important; it’s something that happened with VIVA BROTHER as well. When you start a band, you create these limitations that you have to live within and MIRRORS, it was the four of them and it was very synth heavy, smart and very cool. VIVA BROTHER was very…

Ally: …Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Lee: Yes, rocky, Britpop, all that kind of thing! And then you find you’re limited by it. You can’t escape it and you’ve done what you needed to do. We did our second album and I was done with it before I released it!

What sort of influences have you each brought to the table that perhaps the other wouldn’t have taken notice of had you not been working together?

Lee: I never really listened to much synthesized music at all other than the 90s dance/R’n’B that was on the radio that I loved…but I never imagined I’d be playing it! It’s a whole new world making a piece of machinery talk; I felt that was really interesting. It something I understood with a guitar but never understood with a quirky keyboard. That was exciting for me. And I think it’s the opposite for Ally…

Ally: …for me, it’s the way that Lee writes melodically and lyrically. We work together…

Lee: …I don’t understand what he does…I try! *laughs*

Ally: If we have a chord progression or something, often I’ll have something in my head but I never say it out loud and I always like to hear what Lee does. But Lee will do something that I would never in a million years have come up with. And that’s the beauty of it; if we both had the same record collection, we’d sound like a homage or pastiche…I’ve been there and done that!

Lee: Exactly what I’ve done! To get out of our comfort zones, we have to work a lot harder for something to happen. The reason MIRRORS and VIVA BROTHER were buzz bands was because we sounded a lot like an era and people can romanticise with a band that sounds like its from that era and relate to it easily.

You should have seen my first live review of MIRRORS…it had ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK all over it!! *laughs*

Ally: Someone referred to MIRRORS as “credit crunch KRAFWERK”!

Lee: That’s unfair! VIVA BROTHER got called a bad homage to SHED SEVEN and a bad FLOWERED UP! *laughs*

Ally: Because we’ve gravitated towards each other musically, there are records that we equally both love but there are others that Lee would listen too that I probably wouldn’t and vice versa. I think it will always be like that. Our sound is synthy and slow with R’n’B/Hip Hop influences but if Lee sung melodies like that, we’d be a laughing stock…two middle class white kids making R’n’B/Hip Hop!

This is what’s interesting about you. My first impression was that LOVELIFE is electronic pop music, but perhaps not quite as we know it. Some of it sounds like what might have happened if Noel Gallagher had picked up a Prophet instead of a Les Paul. Other tracks, it’s quite R’n’B… where does that element come from?

Lee: When you do something for a while and you fall out of love with it, you do the polar opposite. Because we were in New York, it does encompass you slightly.

Ally: The music that surrounded us where we lived in Brooklyn would be totally different to what we hear in the UK.

Lee: It’s music everywhere, in cars, on the streets…

Ally: …in America, each station is genre specific so you listen to a station for the genre you like, you don’t get a station with everything. So you can listen to Hip Hop or R’n’B all day long and you can’t do that in the UK…even on Radio1Xtra, it’s not like it is there! That definitely influenced us.

Lee: It was something new that we discovered together as well and fallen in love with.

Ally: I’ve always had a soft spot for really cheesy slow R’n’B and some of the cool stuff as well but I was never going to get away with that in MIRRORS! *laughs*

‘Brave Face’ is the song that possibly links LOVELIFE musically most with MIRRORS…what inspired that one? It’s like a courageous statement of intent…

Lee: There is an element of that but a lot of the first ‘El Regreso’ EP was about a break-up I went through. Me and Ally bonded over relationships that ended with girlfriends at the same time and we had solice in each other; we were on each others shoulders a little bit. I felt we could be a little raw lyrically. It’s about a girl but if you want to think of it as about us being brave, you can take that…it makes for a better story! *laughs*

The song ‘Heaven’ from your new EP ‘The Fourth Floor’ is about your old band Lee?

Lee: It was something to get off my chest, I was bit frustrated in VIVA BROTHER and I was paranoid that people weren’t taking me seriously as a musician and songwriter. I wanted to put that into a song and what better way to answer people. It was a good melody as well, the words sort of came together.

Ally, how did you complement it musically?

Ally: The track was written musically before a lyric…

Lee: …we added parts to accent some words and certain feelings like in the chorus where it says “When I thought I found heaven, I found myself in hell, lost and alone so far from home” and there’s this big orchestral siren which really alludes.

Ally: I think with that song, it’s less about production but it’s obvious what it’s about and it’s a good song…the lyrics are really poignant and the song stands up.

Lee: I don’t expect anyone to know what band I was in but it was something personal to me. So if anyone listens to it, they might have their own interpretation of what it’s about.

 

Will you do a song about your old band Ally?

Ally: If Lee writes one! *laughs*

Which songs have been the key tracks for you both so far from your two EPs?

Ally: I think is probably ‘Your New Beloved’ from ‘The Fourth Floor’ EP. From start to finish, we did that in two hours. I made this beat and dragged this sample in while Lee wrote the melody in about 15 minutes and we tracked it in about another 15-20…then it was done! We can sometimes get bogged down and you can overwork a song but that one, we spent the least amount of time on and we thought “this is good”. It’s the track which lyrically people relate to the most, it’s given us the most attention.

Lee: It’s weird that…’Your New Beloved’ is definitely a stand out and ‘Brave Face’ for me as well because it feels very complete for whatever reason.

Ally: That was another one that happened really quickly wasn’t it?

Lee: Yes, and I love the middle eight to it as well.

Ally: ‘I’m No More’ would be the second one for me…I think that encompasses what we do very well in that the musicality of it is quite urban and electronic with a Hip Hop influence, but then the melody is completely different and its contrast sits perfectly.

So how has LOVELIFE been received by the people who followed your previous bands?

Ally: We haven’t really received much aversion from any fans of the previous bands who were genuinely fans of the music. It’s rare from my experience…the whole negative thing has come from press and from blogs.

Lee: I’ve had a few which I would expect…

I understand you like the new Glasweigian synthpop act CHVRCHES?

Lee: I think CHVRCHES are great and cool. They’re something a bit different, like PURITY RING but a bit more songy! ‘The Mother We Share’ is a big tune!

Ally: It grew on me that…wasn’t overly into it first time.

Anyone else you like at the moment?

Ally: ANGEL HAZE, she’s cool and there’s this 17 year old kid from Brooklyn, a rapper called JOEY BADA$$…his EP ‘1999’ reminds me of a young NAS. The TAYLOR SWIFT record is a killer!

Lee: I really like HAIM.

You did a remix for MAROON 5. How did that come about?

Ally: We got asked to do it by the label.

Lee: They saw us play. We were offered it and thought “we can’t pass up this opportunity”!

Ally: Remixes are fun anyway because it’s like writing a song without writing a song. It’s already written and you just take it apart and put it back together!

Did you do the MIRRORS Une Autre Monde Mix for LADY GAGA’s ‘Judas’?

Ally: There were two kicking around, one I did… if Interscope offer you a LADY GAGA remix, you don’t say no, it’s as simple as that! To be honest, remixing that song was like a lesson in engineering; it was fun!

Hopes and fears…what next for LOVELIFE?

Lee: That’ll be the album title… *laughs*

Ally: …your biography!

Lee: Yeah! I think we’re planning to go to South-By-Southwest Festival so that’s the next thing were going to work towards. And then we’re going to go back to America for a bit. In the meantime, we’re just going to write and play…

Ally: …yes, play where there’s a demand for us.

Lee: As long as we’ve got new music to play and we’re enjoying it, we’ll do it.

Ally: I think we’d like to do a slightly longer release next time.

Lee: It will probably be a bit more experimental and darker.

Ally: I think we’re still finding our feet. Even with the two EPs, I think that’s fairly evident.

Finally, how did you get on with getting KRAFTWERK tickets? *laughs*

Ally: It’s still a little difficult for me to talk about it…I phoned from half seven in the morning until about four in the afternoon and I didn’t get through once! The whole saving grace for me was that no-one had tickets until 3.00pm. I think there were ten volunteers from the Women’s Institute on the phones at the Tate…my mood changed through the day as I was thinking “This is my last chance to see KRAFTWERK!”…then I thought “F*** KRAFTWERK, it’s only Ralf Hütter”! I couldn’t get tickets for anything! I would’ve taken tickets for ‘The Mix’ or ‘Tour De France Soundtracks’!!! *laughs*


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to LOVELIFE

Special Thanks to Chris Nenadich at Fifth Member Management

‘The Fourth Floor’ and ‘El Regreso’ EPs are available as free downloads from www.lvlf.info

www.facebook.com/LVLFinfo

https://soundcloud.com/lvlf/sets/lovelife-the-fourth-floor


Text and interview by Chi Ming Lai
18th December 2012

TEC’s 2012 End Of Year Review

Close Encounters Of The Synth Kind

Steven Spielberg with ARP2500

The year began with the housewives’ favourite astronomer Brian Cox naming several synth friendly classics like OMD’s ‘Messages’ and DURAN DURAN’s ‘Friends Of Mine’ in his choices for ‘Desert Island Discs’ as well as declaring an appreciation of ULTRAVOX.

The confessions of the one-time keyboard player of DARE and D:REAM proved once again that electronic music is the preserve of the intelligent, discerning listener. And as with the strap line to ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ which featured the use of an ARP 2500 to communicate with the aliens incidentally!), it proved to many a synth enthusiast that “we are not alone”!

Speaking of ULTRAVOX, they made the comeback of the year with ‘Brilliant’, the first long player featuring the classic line-up of Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie and Midge Ure since 1984’s ‘Lament’.

While the album could have probably done with being two tracks shorter, it was the best of the bunch in a line of returns from the last few years by Synth Britannia veterans OMD, BLANCMANGE and THE HUMAN LEAGUE; not bad considering most of the band are now in their early sixties!

The Dreaded Pink Thing has now been truly buried!

GARY NUMAN continued to tour like there was no tomorrow and reunited with his old backing band DRAMATIS on several of his ‘Machine Music’ shows in tribute to the late Ced Sharpley who had drummed for both. From the same management stable, JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS unleashed their third album in 18 months entitled ‘Evidence’ while CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN released only her second solo album in just over 20 years with a soothing collection of reinterpretations called ‘The Lost Are Found’.

With only Synth-Werk plug-in hoaxes and Belgian clones METROLAND to keep Klingklangers entertained with new material, KRAFTWERK themselves undertook a 3D residency at New York’s MoMA featuring their eight most recent works with a controversial two tickets per customer policy. As most of these albums clocked in at just over 30 minutes, there was still an hour’s other favourites to savour for those lucky enough to get their names on the list.

This electronic extravaganza will be reprised at London’s Tate Modern in February 2013. As a former power plant, the location is wholly appropriate although the occasion will be tainted by the ticket fiasco that preceded it! Ex-member KARL BARTOS was probably observing with amusement as he will be returning in 2013 with a new album ‘Off The Record’ and world tour. Disgruntled fans who missed out on the Tate Modern shows are now likely to be venturing his way for their KRAFTWERK fix!

Danny Boyle’s London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony attempted to showcase the best of British so with UNDERWORLD as musical directors, OMD, NEW ORDER, PET SHOP BOYS, BRIAN ENO and EURYTHMICS all figured during the evening.

And in keeping with the Games message to “inspire a generation”, promising new act STRANGERS had their single ‘Safe / Pain’used by the BBC in a montage of Team GB’s cycling success during the Olympics. The trio also shone at BASII, a Basildon electronic music festival celebrating the legacy of their most famous sons DEPECHE MODE and went on to support BLANCMANGE and CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN.

Also present at BASII was SARAH BLACKWOOD who DJ-ed and gave tremendous solo renditions of songs such as ‘Price Of Love’ and ‘Not So Manic Now’. A new DUBSTAR album is currently being finished with producer Stephen Hague. DEPECHE MODE themselves announced a new album and tour for 2013 in a bizarre press conference that appeared to have no actual news!

But this was not before Dave Gahan guested with SOULSAVERS and Martin Gore did a cameo for MOTOR; He also reunited with former bandmate Vince Clarke for the rather polarising techno project VCMG. And in a year that saw all members of the extended DM family busy, former bandmate Alan Wilder helped compile a tribute album to one-time synthpoppers TALK TALK and released the RECOIL concert film ‘A Strange Hour In Budapest’.

MARSHEAUX returned to London with a triumphant performance at TEC002 featuring The Blitz Club’s legendary Rusty Egan on electronic percussion during an encore of ‘Come On’, a song from their forthcoming fourth long player ‘Inhale’.

They also released a double headed single with the marvellous TWINS NATALIA, exponents of vintage synthpop fashioned for an imaginary 21st Century Weimar Republic; MARSHEAUX covered their cult favourite ‘When We Were Young’ to compliment TWINS NATALIA rendition of ‘Radial Emotion’.

After the label and personnel upheavals of last Autumn, MIRRORS regrouped as a trio and made a welcome return with a starker sound. While this new material perhaps lacked the immediacy of their ‘Lights & Offerings’ debut, songs like ‘Between Four Walls’ and ‘Dust’ captured a depth of mood that grew with each listen. MIRRORS off-shoot LOVELIFE decamped to make their fortune in New York and unveiled a promising number in ‘Brave Face’ which crossed OMD with HARD-FI.

Among the best songs of 2012 was ‘Trust’ by Finland’s SIN COS TAN, a new project from VILLA NAH’s Juho Paalosmaa and ace producer Jori Hulkkonen. The parent eponymous album was impressive too and showed once again that the Nordic region was the perfect environment for the genesis of inventive leftfield synthpop.

Sweden proved its prowess with COMPUTE who beefed up her sound for second EP ‘The Distance’ while IAMAMIWHOAMI took her mysterious audio visual experience into the physical album arena for the first time with ‘Kin’ where the enigmatic electronic soundtrack stood up on its own. Just down the road, there was the RAMMSTEIN reincarnated as DEPECHE MODE menace of TITANS.

Electro crooners JULIAN & MARINA showcased their lounge crooner synthpop with a cover of a Hollywood-era Elvis number ‘A House That Has Everything’ and DAYBEHAVIOR released their third album ‘Follow That Car!’ after a year’s delay.

From across the Atlantic, Canadians CRYSTAL CASTLES and PURITY RING were the darlings of the hipster cognoscenti along with GRIMES who hit the black keys of her Juno-G and impressed with her latest album ‘Visions’. She also made a timely appearance on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ which recalled the TV debut of LITTLE BOOTS back in 2008.

Sadly, Victoria Hesketh left behind her synth girl persona to head for the less challenging climes of clubland. Big rival LA ROUX was taking her time recording her second album while LADYHAWKE proved that she was always a rock chick in the first place with her second long player ‘Anxiety’sounding like it had been recorded down a drainpipe!

But in Diamond Jubilee Year, QUEEN OF HEARTS flew the electro flag with a glitzy slice of electro schaffel appropriately entitled ‘Neon’. A further single ‘Warrior’ proved it was not a fluke as the young royal turned into CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN meeting Emo KYLIE!

The UK found itself a few promising female-led electronic acts in the charmingly kooky …OF DIAMONDS, the Italo-led KOVAK and the dark but dreamy EVOKATEUR. But virtually out of nowhere came Glasgow’s new synth sensations CHVRCHES. Despite only unleashing two songs ‘Lies’ and ‘The Mother We Share’ for public consumption, both were corkers; their much vaunted live performances met expectations, displaying both inventive synth arrangements and a vital pop sensibility.

The boys weren’t idle either with BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT and KID KASIO unleashing their long awaited debut albums while on the newer side of the tracks, there was the angry OMD of AUTOMATIC WRITING, the FAITHLESS gone rock of SINESTAR and the ERASURE for the new millennium of MODOVAR.

After the excitement of the years between 2008 and 2011, this was a comparatively quiet year for the sound of the synth with regards special events. There was no Short Circuit or gatherings on the scale of Tomorrow Is Today, the Vintage Electronic Phuture Revue or the BEF Weekender.

Within the mainstream, the majors were keen to support electronic music just so long as it was dance oriented. Notably, EMI pushed the generic foil of SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA and the ubiquitous DAVID GUETTA as the new acceptable faces of electronic music via their flawed ‘Electrospective’ promotional campaign; by default, this also involved Daniel Miller, Martyn Ware and Andy McCluskey due to the label’s ownership of the Virgin and Mute back catalogues! But some glaring schoolboy errors on their website and the use of quotes from COLDPLAY’s Chris Martin showed they didn’t really understand electronic pop…

There had been signs at the end of 2011 that the major record companies thought a rave revival would save their corporate bacons. Swedish synthpop duo THE SOUND OF ARROWS said that during their brief tenure with Geffen Records, the A&R had wanted them to sound more Ibiza club friendly.

Their one-time label mate SUNDAY GIRL, who originally had a promising GOLDFRAPP meets JOY DIVISION sound, was reduced to covering dance numbers made famous by STEPS… her debut album originally slated for 2010 is still nowhere to be seen!

Meanwhile, MARINA & THE DIAMONDS‘ very good in places second album ‘Electra Heart’ had several of its songs spoiled by overdriving club beats! Is this really the only way to make people dance? It all seems a little brain dead! “NAME THAT TUNE…” snarled Rusty Egan on Facebook, “…if you can hear one?”

So should The Electricity Club settle down with a pipe and slippers? While TEC prefers to “dance to disco” cos we “don’t like rock”, there must be more to electro than shallow repetitive four-to-the-floor thuds and glowsticks?

The Electricity Club likes a tune and doesn’t pretend to love every variation of the electronic theme. And from conversations TEC has had with several DJs, it would appear clubland doesn’t want to be associated with the classic synthpop world anymore than the classic synthpop world wants to be lumped in with dance culture… so why attempt to centralise everything?

Modern beat driven flavours and other influences can be appreciated but a full blown experience is not always what is required! As the marvellous new Texan duo ELEVEN:ELEVEN have proved, danceable electronic music can be made that is subtle and syncopated. And all this without the need of an annoying dubstep remix, or a 10 minute techno rework with no melodic elements!

It’s cool to be discerning…


THE ELECTRICTY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2012

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: DEADMAU5 >album title goes here<
Best Song: ORBITAL New France (Tom Middleton Cosmos remix)
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at London O2 Arena
Best Video: SPLEEN UNITED Days Of Thunder
Most Promising New Act: TITANS


STEVE GRAY

Best Album: ULTRAVOX Brilliant
Best Song: CHVRCHES Lies
Best Gig: HEAVEN 17 at London Shepherds Bush Empire
Best Video: SINESTAR I Am The Rain
Most Promising New Act: CHVRCHES


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: SIN COS TAN Sin Cos Tan
Best Song: SIN COS TAN Trust
Best Gig: BAS II
Best Video: IAMAMIWHOAMI Drops
Most Promising New Act: CHVRCHES


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: SIN COS TAN Sin Cos Tan
Best Song: ULTRAVOX Rise
Best Gig: BAS II
Best Video: KID KASIO Telephone Line
Most Promising New Act: KARIN PARK


JOHAN WEJEDAL

Best Album: METROLAND Mind The Gap
Best Song: COMPUTE Dawning Days
Best Gig: KRAFTWERK at Way Out West Festival, Gothenburg
Best Video: PARRALOX Sharper Than A Knife 2012 (Lyric Video)
Most Promising New Act: PLANET R


Text by Chi Ming Lai
16th December 2012

The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2012

It was a weak year musically overall, but a number of acts with great potential emerged.

So here are The Electricity Club’s 30 Songs of 2012, listed in alphabetical order. All have been released either in physical formats or digitally as purchasable or free downloads during the calendar year. However, the list is limited to one song per artist

It also does not include tracks which are exclusive to streams and videos or DJs only promos like the remix of REPUBLICA’s ‘Christiana Obey’… so maybe next year perhaps?


AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous

Consisting of the Merrick Brothers, AUTOMATIC WRITING are the angry OMD if you can imagine that! Their sombre, ENO influenced template is like Wirral’s finest have been given a contemporary anthemic facelift by having WHITE LIES Harry McVeigh recruited as lead vocalist! ‘Continuous’ whirs and spins while driven by mutant motorik beats and dysfunctional claustrophobia. The flip ‘Falling’ is a more mid-tempo cousin and is another worthy addition to the duo’s developing sound.

Available as a download single via http://automaticwriting.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/automaticwriting


BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT Immature

BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT is Welsh songwriter/producer Rod Thomas who adopted his ‘Gremlins’ referencing moniker to prevent being mistaken for an acoustic act which he clearly now is not, despite his folkie roots. As the opener to the long awaited album ‘Make Me Believe In Hope’, ‘Immature’ is a great start as it rhythmically percolates in the manner of THE POSTAL SERVICE before a terrific synth section unexpectedly lifts the whole piece several notches. This is a superbly emotive and sensitive piece of pop.

Available on the album ‘Make Me Believe in Hope’ via The Blue Team/Aztec Records

http://www.brightlightx2.com/


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Everyone Says Hi

From ‘The Lost Are Found’ album produced by Stephen Hague which also features versions of songs originally by PET SHOP BOYS, DUBSTAR and STINA NORDENSTRAM among others, CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN’s lively reinterpretation of Bowie’s ‘Everyone Says Hi’ from ‘Heathen’ unveils a previously hidden heartfelt connection, a call for contact like Major Tom in ‘Space Oddity’. Dressed with catchy synth riffs and fuzzy shades, it combines ice maiden chill and organic warmth for an artful sound.

Available on the album ‘The Lost Are Found’ via There (there)

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk/


CHVRCHES Lies

ROBYN doing an electro cover of ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ may not sound immediately appealing in concept but that’s how this punchy number starts before elevating into a rousing, spirited synth anthem. CHVRCHES could become the next electro combo to shake up the mainstream pop world since LA ROUX. A great song with great melodies and weird noises, herein ‘Lies’ the bridge between leftfield and bubblegum pop. The follow-up ‘The Mothers We Share’  underlines this promising Glaswegian trio’s capability.

Available as a free download via Neon Gold

http://www.facebook.com/CHVRCHES


VINCE CLARKE Featuring ANE BRUN Fly On The Windscreen

Novelist Tonya Hurley commissioned her brother-in-law VINCE CLARKE to record a stark cover of his former band’s ‘Fly On The Windscreen’ with vocalist ANE BRUN as part of promotion for her literary trilogy ‘The Blessed’. While the guitar-like textures appear to have been borrowed from the original in an act of artistic continuity, the rest of the arrangement is quite different as the vulnerable feminine twist acts as the ‘Twilight’ Generation’s perfect introduction to DEPECHE MODE.

Available as a download single via iTunes and Amazon

http://www.vinceclarkemusic.com/

http://anebrun.com/


COMPUTE Light As A Feather

COMPUTE is Ulrika Mild, a Gothenburg girl who discovered synthpop via DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak and Spell’. ‘Light As a Feather’ is a bouncy but melancholic ditty which suggests a snow mountain of vulnerability. That is certainly apparent in Ulrika’s sweet, fragile voice. It’s beautifully sequenced with layers of eerie string machine for that distinctive Nordic chill.

Available on download album ‘The Distance’ via iTunes and Amazon

http://www.compute.se


CURXES Spectre

Roberta Fidora shows yet another fine turn of aggressive resignation like SIOUXSIE SIOUX in a padded cell while instrumentalist Macaulay Hopwood picks out his unsettling bass notes to full effect. While this CURXES tune is perhaps more guitar driven than what would normally be expected of most electronica, ‘Spectre’ is positively Spartan with symphonic synth stabs and industrial beat snaps…it’s the sound of the overground or Goth ‘n’ Bass…or even Gotham Bass; geddit? Simply exhilarating!

Available as a download single via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.curxes.com


DIVINE KNIGHTS Clouds (THE SANFERNANDO SOUND remix)

Goth laden PET SHOP BOYS from the theatrical Aussie duo dreamily remixed by THE SANFERNANDO SOUND. This is richly synthesized with lashings of atmosphere and accessible melancholy. The extrovertly camp pair have even subverted the realm of the talent show by getting into the semi-finals of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’. Dannii Minogue said: “I think DIVINE KNIGHTS are brave for coming on a show like this because not everybody is going to get them…but I really hope they do well!”

Available as a download single via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.divineknights.com.au/

http://www.facebook.com/thesanfernandosound


ELEVEN:ELEVEN No Words

Texan duo ELEVEN:ELEVEN comprise the feline vocals of Sicca with the instrumentation of Jake Childs and throw in a variety of influences including Italo Disco, Hi-NRG and Electroclash. ‘No Words’ recalls MISS KITTEN & THE HACKER, capturing a tense nightlife seediness. Short but sweet with a swirling middle section, who needs an extended dance mix when the point is made in two and a half minutes? ELEVEN:ELEVEN have proved danceable electronic pop music can be made that’s syncopated and subtle.

Available as a free download via http://weare1111.com/


GAZELLE TWIN Changelings (JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS remix)

Stark and mysterious, the living art of GAZELLE TWIN is the moniker of Elizabeth Walling, the Brighton based songstress whose brooding, unsettling Hauntronica has impressed in all the right circles. JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS’ version of one of her best tracks ‘Changelings’ sees Mr Foxx adding his own Cathedral Oceans sweeps to Benge’s Mathematical solutions. In an productive year profile wise, her music was used in the promotion for the film ‘Prometheus’.

Available on the album ‘The Entire City Remixed’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records

http://www.gazelletwin.com/


GRIMES Oblivion

GRIMES is the kooky Montreal sensation that is Clare Boucher and this LYKKE LI fronting KRAFTWERK tune is sumptuously infectious. Despite almost unintelligible vocals, ‘Oblivion’ is probably the most immediate track on the ‘Visions’ album although other tracks like ‘Genesis’ and ‘Be A Body’ explore similarly accessible synthesized avenues. ‘Oblivion’ is ideal for those looking for subtler percussive colours and synthesized tapestries in a leftfield lady meets pop princess fusion.

Available on the album ‘Visions’ via 4AD Records

http://www.grimesmusic.com


HUSKI Close To The Edge

HUSKI first came to public attention on the trendy Shoreditch electro scene back in 2007 with ‘Take Me Your Picture’.  The late lamented Word magazine described ‘Close To The Edge’ as sounding “not unlike how Clare Grogan might if she took a guest slot with THE HUMAN LEAGUE”. As both THE HUMAN LEAGUE and ALTERED IMAGES worked with the late Martin Rushent, that is not as peculiar as it first sounds and it brims with a cutesy allure.

Available on the album ‘H’ via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.huskimusic.com/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Drops

IAMAMIWHOIAMI is the enigmatic electronic multimedia project fronted by Jonna Lee. From her first full length album ‘Kin’, ‘Drops’ is uptempo but almost trancelike. The beats are subtle with just layers of ice and chill to compliment. The clattering fits of noise and metallic textures add to the hypnotism. Jonna Lee’s piercing larynx will polarise listeners but this is Nordic weirdness in all its wonderful glory.

Available on the album ‘Kin’ via Co-Operative Music/To Whom It May Concern

http://www.towhomitmayconcern.cc/


INJE Kofein I CO2

Hailing from Belgrade and featuring the nucleus of vocalist Jelena Miletić and instrumentalist Jovan Vesić, INJE have had the pleasure of supporting HURTS and FAITHLESS in their home country. Their chromatic East European charge will almost certainly please followers of LADYTRON. The excellent ‘Kofein I CO2’ from their EP ‘Protok’ is sort of DUBSTAR in Serbo-Croat meets DAVID LYNCH soundtrack, possessing an aural magnetism that is gorgeously layered with an air of wispy innocence.

Available as a free download from http://inje.rs/


KOVAK Killer Boots

‘Killer Boots’ is cooing new wave electropop with an immediately catchy Italo vibe…think ‘Self Control’ or even ‘Touch Me’! Appropriately decadent and sexy, this catchy song is produced by GARY NUMAN collaborator Andy Gray. Colourful, energetic and glamourous, KOVAK are like BLONDIE meeting DRAGONETTE and GWEN STEFANI through a TUBEWAY ARMY voltage controlled filter.

Available as a download single via 74 Music

http://kovak.co.uk/


LITTLE JINDER Keep On Dreaming

Is it dubstep or is it electro? ‘Keep On Dreaming’ actually sounds more like the latter. When the half beat/two step influences kick in, luckily they do so without the irritating, skipping CD nightmares that devilishly plague most dubstep. But like with all crossover songs, it is the flavour rather than the full blown experience that often wins favour. Confused? Just enjoy… this number by young Stockholm songstress Josefine Jinder features lots of lovely synths!

Available as a download single via Trouble & Bass

http://www.facebook.com/littlejinder


LOVELIFE Brave Face

From the creative minds of former MIRRORS man Ally Young and Lee Newell from one-time indie darlings VIVA BROTHER, ‘Braveface’ is a chilling but uplifting piece of mood music which comes over like OMD fronted by HARD FI! With its Cool Britannia meets Synth Britannia fusion via the Big Apple, LOVELIFE’s genre blend may be confusing indie and electronic music fans alike but at least it’s different.

Available on the free download EP ‘El Regreso’ from http://www.lvlf.info/

https://www.facebook.com/LVLFinfo/


MIRRORS Between Four Walls

Since slimming down to a trio, MIRRORS have been heading for a sparser, textural direction which is perhaps less immediate than their debut album ‘Lights & Offerings’ but nevertheless rewarding with further listens. The beautifully stark drama of ‘Between Four Walls’ is sublime and full of post 3am drama. With echoes of OMD, CHINA CRISIS and THE BLUE NILE, it is high end atmospheric electronic balladry at its best. “Do you ever wonder how you’ll ever get there when you never turn back around?”

Available as a download single via http://mirrorsofficial.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors


MODOVAR Clearly

Comprising of Glen Wisbey on synths and the suave persona of Christopher Beecham on vocals, MODOVAR’s most immediate number is the emotively rousing ‘Clearly’. Beecham is a man with a self-confessed admiration of ALISON MOYET so ‘Clearly’ connects as a song of love in the first degree. It is just one of their “melodic, anthemic, chorus led songs, lyrically focused on the undercurrents of love and the human condition”. Also check out their cover of ROXY MUSIC’s ‘Same Old Scene’.

Available on the download EP ‘Clearly’ via Amazon and iTunes

http://modovar.com/


MOTOR featuring MARTIN L GORE Man Made Machine

MOTOR’s electro stomper ‘Man Made Machine’ features vocals by DEPECHE MODE’s Martin Gore in a collaboration that sounds not unlike a camp IGGY POP being backed by an angry GOLDFRAPP. In the absence of DM material in 2012, this has been a worthy substitute with Gore luring nervously over the duo’s brand of harder edged techno electro. Incidentally, the same titled parent album also features guest such as GARY NUMAN and NITZER EBB’s Douglas J McCarthy.

Available on the album ‘Man Made Machine’ via CLR

http://www.wearemotor.com/


THE MYSTIC UNDERGROUND Remember Me

New York domiciled Anglophile duo THE MYSTIC UNDERGROUND’s make “pop songs for the disenchanted, disillusioned and disenfranchised”. Featuring Vladimir Valette on vocals and Benedetto Socci on keyboards, their “life…set to a dance beat” touches a nerve and now more so than the NEW ORDER influenced ‘Remember Me’. An emotive guitar assisted number in the vein of ‘Leave Me Alone’, it is slightly mournful and despaired but melodically secure.

Available on the download EP ‘Dreamers & Lovers’ via Stereosonic Recordings

http://www.themysticunderground.com


KARIN PARK Thousand Loaded Guns

BJÖRK goes synthy via THE KNIFE on ‘Thousand Loaded Guns’, a danceable tune that provides a degree of accessibility into the world of darker Nordic climes. Hailing from the forests of Djura in Sweden, KARIN PARK is yet another child of Drejer-Andersson, straddling between electropop and artier aspirations. Her sound is sonically awkward, albeit in a liberating artistic way. Scandinavia is a great place to be musically at the moment.

Available on the album ‘Highwire Poetry’ via State Of The Eye Recordings

http://www.karinpark.com/


QUEEN OF HEARTS Neon

Following her Arrival in 2011, QUEEN OF HEARTS graced the music world with a glitzy slice of electro schaffel appropriately entitled ‘Neon’. On first hearing this live, The Electricity Club gleefully pronounced that this managed to out Goldfrapp GOLDFRAPP. While this had the obvious hallmarks of Lady Alison’s glam stomp, Queenie added her own cooing poptastic flavour, recalling RACHEL STEVENS’ under rated and great lost album ‘Come & Get It’.

Available on the download EP ‘Neon’ via All Things Go Records

http://www.iamqueenofhearts.com/


RITUALS James

Hailing from downtown Los Angeles, RITUALS comprise vocalist Neil Popkin and electronic producer Julian Denis. ‘James’ is rousing neo-NEW ORDER meets THE BRAVERY (remember them?) stomper which is only slightly short of being outstanding due to its demo-ish production…but the song resonates with an appealing doom. ‘Walk Away’ from their 2011 debut EP is another fine example of their potential.

Available as a free download via http://ritualsla.bandcamp.com/album/james-single

http://ritualsla.com/


SIN COS TAN Trust
SIN COS TAN is the new mathematically charged project of ace producer Jori Hulkkonen and VILLA NAH’s Juho Paalosmaa, “a synthesized duo of great promise, broken dreams, and long nights”. They have certainly delivered with ‘Trust’, all draped in melancholy with emotive vocals haunted by the ghost of Billy Mackenzie. This is subtle, hypnotic dance music with layered strings, sampled cimbalom and Cold War dramatics, it is one of the songs of the year.

Available on the album ‘Sin Cos Tan’ via Solina (Europe) and Sugarcane Recordings (Rest of World)

http://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan


SINESTAR Hurricane

Bristol’s SINESTAR are a full blown five-piece band with drums, bass and guitar as well as synths and their MESH derived synthesized rock has the potential to crossover into several electronic sub-genres. With a so far small but impressive body of work as showcased on the ‘I Am The Rain’ EP, the terrific ‘Hurricane’ is like FAITHLESS gone rock! Catchy, tuneful and anthemic, they just need to work on the production.

Available on the download EP ‘I Am The Rain’ via Dead Rat Recordings.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sinestar/310216912403126


STRANGERS Safe/Pain

STRANGERS have been perilously close to COLDPLAY territory on occasions. But on ‘Safe/Pain’, a moody slice of sweeping synth noir with a lonely piano intro, the big surprise comes when a series of rave stabs cut in for the ultimate euphoric lift, crossed with a bit of dubstep! The BBC loved ‘Safe/Pain’ and used it for a clip compiling Team GB’s immense cycling achievements at the end of the London 2012 Olympics. Following prestigious support slots with BLANCMANGE and CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN under their belt, David Maddox-Jones, Raife Hacking and Piers Sherwood Roberts are well on their way!

Available as a download single via Beatwolf

http://strangers.co.uk


TITANS It’s Dark

‘It’s Dark’ could be RAMMSTEIN reincarnated as DEPECHE MODE with fewer the flame throwers! TITANS’ vocalist Dan Von Hoyel sounds like a lower register Dave Gahan winning a fight with a less Teutonic Till Lindemann. In an electronic sub-genre known for its shouting, ‘It’s Dark’ manages to sound menacing without forcing the aggression. The edgy electronic backing from Fredrik Mattsson and Jimmy Svensson blends marvellously with the band’s doompop manifesto.

Available on the download album ‘For The Long Gone’ via Progress Productions

http://www.facebook.com/TitansOfficial


ULTRAVOX Live

There were so many songs that could have been chosen but with this opener from their err… Brilliant comeback album was ULTRAVOX’s optimistic message of intent. Musically, ‘Live’ is ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ without the imminent nuclear holocaust! The instrumental breakdown, which drops to a magnificent pulsing sequence, piano and lone bass drum before the climax, is pure LA DÜSSELDORF and really is something to be savoured.

Available on the album ‘Brilliant’ via Eden Recordings/EMI Records

http://www.ultravoxbrilliant.com/


SAORI YUKI Yoake No Scat (MARSHEAUX remix)

While recording their long awaited new album ‘Inhale’, MARSHEAUX added to their remix portfolio with a terrific reworking of a track dating back to 1969 by Japanese classic singer SAORI YUKI. Adding incessant beats, infectious pulsing synth and melancholic washes of sound to the more organic re-recording with PINK MARTINI from 2011, this brings Kayokyoku (a style of Japanese music thatabsorbs various Western styles) into the electro age with a Melody For a New Dawn.

Available as a download single via EMI Japan

http://ameblo.jp/saori-yuki

http://www.facebook.com/marsheaux


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2012

LOVELIFE El Regreso

LOVELIFE are one-time MIRRORS man Ally Young and vocalist Lee Newell, formally of indie band VIVA BROTHER.

The New York based duo have been refining their concept in the Big Apple with a series of live shows that have included the famous venue Webster Hall, sometimes supporting critics faves THE NEIGHBOURHOOD. Meanwhile, their musical fusion has been attracting a number of admirers with their most high profile collaboration to date being a remix for MAROON 5 on the track ‘One More Night’.

Young and Newell recently unleashed the first fruits of their labours, an EP appropriately entitled ‘El Regreso’ which in Spanish means “I return”.

The EP’s highlight is undoubtedly ‘Braveface’, a chillingly rousing piece of mood music which comes over like OMD fronted by HARD FI! Here, Newell attacks with: “Never in my life have I met such a waste of air… I thank you for this hell on earth” – so could he be talking about the NME with whom he had a fractious press relationship?

Never one to steer away from controversy, he amusingly told the Guardian: “You know what? Much as I love The Stone Roses, I was absolutely gutted they got back together because I thought: that’s gonna keep NME in business for another f*cking year”.

With the other tracks on ‘El Regreso’, the Cool Britannia meets Synth Britannia fusion continues with ‘She Makes It Look Easy’ and ‘Love Rush’. One could imagine these two were perhaps once bluesy melodic rock numbers but are now swathed in electronics and vibey beats, punctuated by the sort of raw heavy soul vocals that come over like Noel Gallagher weaned on THE ISLEY BROTHERS.

The influence of hot buttered grooves and R’n’B flava on tracks like ‘Doomsday’ and ‘I’m No More’ certainly make for an unusual sounding synthesized template while ‘Tonight (We’re Taking Our Own Lives)’ adds in some funked-up bass over its whirring organ vibrato.

LOVELIFE’s genre blend may be confusing indie and electronic music fans, but at least it’s taking a different slant from the expected sound spectrum.


‘El Regreso’ is available from LOVELIFE’s website as a free download EP from: http://www.lvlf.info/

They also play the following live dates in New York:

Santos Party House (18th October), Studio Webster Hall (19th October), Bowery Electric (20th October)

http://www.facebook.com/LVLFinfo

http://soundcloud.com/lvlf


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th October 2012

Introducing LOVELIFE

LOVELIFE is the new project of former MIRRORS man Ally Young.

Following the release of their brilliant debut album ‘Lights & Offerings’ plus some high profile support slots with OMD, GARY NUMAN, WHITE LIES and HEAVEN 17, Young left in Autumn 2011 to pursue other avenues.

Despite the disappointment from many that the split had occurred, as the fragmenting of DEPECHE MODE in 1981 later proved, there is potential for some interesting artistic development in both camps post-‘Lights & Offerings’.

Although still synthetic in nature, LOVELIFE point West towards more Trans-Atlantic climes after the distinctly European arthouse aesthetics of MIRRORS. This is thanks largely to LOVELIFE’s vocalist Leonard Newell, formally of indie band VIVA BROTHER. Launching themselves in New York, the duo have been playing a number of low key gigs away from UK eyes as they introduce themselves to the public at large.

Of the songs that have been previewed via the web, ‘Braveface’ is a promisingly enjoyable number which on first listening, comes over like a cross between OMD and HARD FI! Meanwhile, both ‘She Makes It Look Easy’ and ‘Love Rush’ expose roots in more traditional conventions while still being steered by electronics. Think SUPER FURRY ANIMALS’ offshoot project NEON NEON whose 2008 Mercury nominated ‘Stainless Style’ put an element of rock ‘n’ roll with an electro twist into the 21st Century with a hybrid concept album about John De Lorean!

It would appear though that former supporters of VIVA BROTHER are slightly bemused and clearly not enjoying this new direction with one blog Electric Banana saying “The new songs seem to indicate that LOVELIFE are a synthpop band. Christ!”

Whatever lies ahead for LOVELIFE, the melting pot of influences and instrumentation is likely to be more appreciated by fans of MIRRORS rather than those of VIVA BROTHER. So could LOVELIFE’s first album be the ‘Upstairs At Erics’ companion to MIRRORS’ own ‘A Broken Frame’?

It’s a fascinating prospect. There’s going to be a lot to look forward to…

http://www.lvlf.info/

http://www.facebook.com/LVLFinfo

http://soundcloud.com/lvlf


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st June 2012