Friday, August 30, 2013

Wagner: A Way Of Life EP

When you look at this cover, you just KNOW that it has to be synthpop. Nobody but a synth nerd would dress like a Victorian Michael Jackson conjuring a ring of fire. It certainly did not disappoint me upon first listen. Glorious, cheesy synthpop abounds in this 4-song EP.
 The Third Day of Sorrow and its dance mix are good midtempo synth tracks (although I wish more emphasis was placed on the rhythm...). Visions of You co-opts a synth line from Enola Gay, but in an incredible cheesy manner. And Dust is the true gem on the album - a somber synthpop track that's just perfectly 80s-sounding, somewhat reminscent of Rational Youth. Sometimes it's fun to discover a good old-fashioned synthpop record - and this EP isn't a bad place to start.

Wagner: A Way of Life EP
1986, Novus Records

A1 The Third Day Of Sorrow
A2 Dust
A3 Visions Of You
B The Third Day Of Sorrow (Dance Mix)

Click here to listen!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Boys Say Go: 7" and 12"

There's an old cliche that says you mustn't judge a book by its cover. Likewise, you often shouldn't judge a band by their name. This, however, is NOT one of those cases. Boys Say Go sound exactly like a band named after an early DM song should sound like. Their music is bouncy electro-pop that is infectious as hell, if sometimes a bit cheesy. You may remember them from the Hit The Floor comp I posted a few years back.
 Their 1984 debut 7", Joey and Maria, is almost impossible to find (I have seen only one copy for sale in about 12 years). The A-side reminds me of Tone Set's "Living in Another Land", both stylistically and thematically. Love is Dangerous is a perfect counterpart to the A-side, with its gurgling synths and imminently catchy songwriting.
Their 12", Humanity, is from the following year, by which time they had adopted a more well-produced electro sound. Despite being their last release, it sounds a bit more dated than their 7", but that might just be a result of my preference for the more lo-fi sound of their debut. Still, Humanity is a fun track, and Holy War is actually a great synthpop dancefloor smash with just a touch of With Sympathy-era Ministry funkiness. The band faded into obscurity after the 12", with their records slowly trickling into the hands of synthpop fans like myself. If you want a perfect dose of well-crafted, fun synthpop, you could certainly do worse than Boys Say Go. Listen and enjoy.

Joey and Maria 7"
1984, Gender Records
A Joey and Maria
B Love is Dangerous

Humanity 12"
1985, Gender Records
A Humanity
B Holy Way (D-D-Dance Mix)

Listen to both here!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Innervoice: Nobody Knows EP

Here's an oddity that has slipped under the radar of most synth and new wave fans. I could say that NOBODY KNOWS about this EP, but that would be stupid. Instead, I'll just say that it's a strange and uneven EP from a trio of French Canadians. I cannot find any info about any of them whatsoever, so it appears this was a self-released effort by people who didn't move on to any other projects. In fact, the only relation to any record that I can find is that this was recorded at the same studio as the Janitors Animated 12" shared by Crispy Nuggets several years ago.
The music on this EP emphasizes rhythm, with little to no melody. It actually slightly reminds me of Iron Curtain in that regard - it's simplistic, repetitive, and groove-oriented synth music. The vocals are a different story though - they are often animated and forceful. The lyrics are sung in broken English, and are rather simplistic (sometimes bordering on silly - sample lyric from Too Direct: "You say I / I'm too direct / just loving and caring and sharing things / touching and glowing and feeling feeling feeling". Despite the obvious shortcomins in the lyrics department and the lack of ambition in the musical composition, it's still somehow a rather enjoyanle record.

Innervoice: Nobody Knows EP
1986, 3rd Wave Coll.

A1 Nobody Knows
A2 Shadows
B1 Too Direct
B2 Don't Go Too Fast

Click here to listen!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Unknown: The Unknown LP

I describe a lot of bands that I post about as "unknown". It's a decent descriptor - many bands are heretofore completely unknown outside of the artists who recorded them and a few friends and collectors. Well, this band from Baltimore is literally unknown - as in The Unknown.
This record is more or less un-googleable since it's by a band called The Unknown, and the album is selftitled. Even their German namesakes are much easier to find online! This post is a joint post with Systems of Romance - this is their debut, and their excellent follow-up album can be found right over here.
I came across this album on a recent trip to that ultimate vacation paradise... Baltimore. The record looked interesting, and the 5 seconds I got to hear in the store was enough for me to buy it. The first time I listened to it in its entirety I was wholly impressed. Tracks on the album sound similar to For Against, Unforgettable Fire-era U2, Sport of Kings, Grapes of Wrath, and other similar melancholy guitar-based post punk bands. Even the weaker songs are only weak relative to the strength of the others, and it was initially hard to choose a favorite song. The record starts off with Eternity, a surf-post-punk sound reminiscent of Abecedarians; The Clock, with its dissonant guitar screeches is certainly impressive, and when the band explodes during the chorus I can imaging it must have been excellent to see live. But the closing track, Songinsee, somehow manages to span 6 minutes and still feel too brief, and it's the one that I found myself listening to on repeat. With several layers of shimmering guitars and lyrics about longing and loneliness, it's pretty much a perfect solemn pop song.
I'm uncertain how it escaped the ears of producers and record company execs and propel the band to stardom. It was 1987, so perhaps they thought The Unknown's sound was dated - it's certainly not as hip as mountains of teased hair, spandex, and novelty songs about cherry pie and girls, girls, girls who're smoking in the boy's room. But hopefully this post will give the song, and the album as a whole, a tiny bit of the recognition it deserves.

The Unknown: The Unknown LP
1987, Fetal Records

A1 Eternity
A2 I Wonder Why
A3 Perfect Ground
A4 The Clock
B1 Dear Mrs. Jones
B2 Slow Song
B3 Salvation
B4 Songinsee

Click here to listen!